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10 homes threatened as ‘West Valley Fire’ burns on 2,500 acres in southern Utah

Posted at 9:38 PM, Jun 27, 2018

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah -- A wildfire is quickly growing near Pine Valley in Washington County, and authorities say 10 homes are threatened Thursday morning.

The "West Valley Fire" grew about 500 acres overnight to reach 2,500 acres in size as of Thursday morning. Fire officials say a Red Flag warning is in effect Thursday, which is expected to cause containment issues for firefighters.

About 10 homes on private land near the Mill Flat Trailhead are considered threatened, and firefighters say those homes are about 3 to 5 miles from the fire as of Thursday.

Smoke will be "visible from most of Iron and Washington counties", fire crews said.

The fire began around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and was still zero percent contained by Thursday morning.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

The flames are just miles away from ten homes.

“I hear 'oh my gosh mom there's a fire outside' we come running outside to see this blaze of smoke on Pine Valley Mountain,” said Jennifer Cannon of New Harmony who lives about five miles from the blaze.

She started recording as the smoke billowed over her home.

“This is massive, massive amount of smoke we got going on out here,” Cannon said as the wind roared in the background.

With extreme winds, Mother Nature is not helping firefighters get the blaze under control.

“It's zero percent contained,"  Nick Howell, West Valley Fire Information Officer said.  "We're working on getting crews to the area,"

Because it's in the wilderness,  access is a huge challenge. While it's mostly dry brush there are nearly a dozen homes three to five miles from the flames near the Mill Flat trailhead.

“Firefighters are in there now to do structure protection and assessing the area of what they can do in the event the fire does reach that property,” Howell said.

Those who live near the area aren't surprised to see the flames take over the mountainside.

“It's pretty dry, pretty arid, we don't get a lot of moisture right here,” Cannon said.

While she isn't worried about the fire reaching her house, Cannon said the smell of smoke is overwhelming as she and her daughter watched the sun set.

“My daughter is in love with it," Cannon said.  "She thinks it's an awesome photo opportunity."

She knows firefighters are out there doing all they can.  “Stay safe and we thank you for what you're doing,” Cannon said.

There is no official cause but at this point, investigators strongly believe it is a human caused fire.

Crews expect weather conditions to get much worse Thursday, so they are bringing in hot shot crews, seven fire engines, two helicopters and several heavy air tankers.