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Ellerbeck Fire on 4,000 acres now 50% contained; smoke visible from Tooele, Grantsville

Posted at 6:36 AM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-11 10:01:20-04

UPDATE: As of Wednesday morning the Ellerbeck Fire in Tooele County is 50% contained while the acreage estimate remains at 4,000.

About 50 personnel are fighting the fire, which is located on the north end of the Stansbury Mountains. Those personnel are assisted by four engines, two hotshot crews, two helicopters, one air attack aircraft, one heavy air tanker and one single engine air tanker.

The fire has not prompted any evacuations as of Wednesday, but officials say smoke from the fire will be visible from Tooele, Grantsville and some areas along I-80 in the vicinity.

Previous story continues below:

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah -- Fire crews worked to battle the Ellerbeck fire that broke out overnight in Tooele County. The fire was estimated to have burned about 4,000 acres.

Fire officials said Tuesday afternoon that the fire was 40 percent contained.

North Tooele Fire District says the fire began around 8 p.m. Monday in the area of Ellerbeck Road in Grantsville. They believe a lightning strike started the blaze.

Fire crews said there were explosive materials in the path of the fire, but they were able to secure those.

"Dispatch was notified by the property owner that there are a couple of buildings on site that house caps and the basically explosive materials for the plant operations," said Ryan Willden of the North Tooele Fire District. "Yeah, you just never know what you're gonna find on these fires."

Officials say there were so many lightning strikes overnight that firefighters had to seek shelter in their vehicles at times.

10 engines, one hotshot crew, one dozer, one helicopter one air attack, one heavy air tanker and one single engine air tanker responded to fight the fire.

“This was pretty much a run and gun operation especially during the night,” said Dave Vickers, Incident Commander with Department of Natural Resources.

Bureau of Land Management brought in reinforcements Tuesday morning to help local crews battle the wildfire.

“We’d go from one spot to the other where conditions would change,” said Vickers.

With only local crews on hand, protecting a nearby home was challenging.

“If the dozer line hadn’t been there and the fire went through that area, he would have lost all his property, and then the fire would have gotten up to the hill and his residence,” said Vickers.

All crews could do was attack the most parts of the fire until more firefighters in the air and on the ground showed up.

“We were able to get part of a hotshot crew that’s on a fire on the other side of the mountain in Skull Valley,” said Vickers.

The extra support allowed firefighters to get a better handle on the fire and map out the damage.

“Our confidence level is a lot higher now,” said Vickers.

A map of the fire as of 3:50 p.m. Tuesday can be seen below:

Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands
July 10, 208