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Hilltop Fire burns 1,400 acres in Sanpete County, hundreds evacuated

Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 18:50:04-04

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah - In a matter of hours the hilltop fire in Sanpete County forced hundreds of evacuations and tore through several homes.

The fire started at the Black Hawk Subdivision, then made its way over the mountainside to the town of Milburn.

“You can feel the heat coming up the road, you can feel the heat, it is really intense the flames are huge,” said Jessica Arnoldson who lives within a quarter of a mile from the flames. “It was just raining ashes; we were leaving our house and it was just pouring ash on our house. It's really it's really scary seeing this happen to our home.”

Now, Arnoldson is one of the hundreds watching helplessly as the Hilltop Fire rages on.

“Everything we've ever grown up with is burning. We've grown up here all of our lives and to see it burn like this is really heartbreaking,” Arnoldson said.

Several communities are evacuating and even more are on standby.

“We're just going to try to help everybody get out of here as quick as we can,” said Troy Russel, who has lived in the area for 12 years.

Many were racing the flames, trying to get everything they could out of their homes.

“As hot as it is, as fast as it's going, you could be in deep trouble in a hurry,” said Garry Ferre, who was helping his son evacuate.

The flames appeared to have torn through several structures Monday evening.

“They got a whole bunch of homes they've already burned up a couple of them up there on the hill,” Ferre said.

One of the towns affected is Lt. Governor Spencer Cox's hometown.

“It’s intense out there right now, this fire took off it's going like crazy. The good news is we got everybody out,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

Crews are working to create defensible space around homes so more aren’t lost.

“We're worried about these houses right now,” said Cox, pointing at the mountainside.

Crews are fighting from the air, dropping retardant to get a handle on the flames and helicopters are even dropping buckets of water onto homes.

“Right now it's a dangerous situation we can't get crews on the fire, it's too dangerous. Good news is we have attack helicopters now, we have some tankers in here now, so we're hoping to get a handle on this,” Cox said.

While the fire shows no signs of dying down, the community is working to bring out all their belongings and save their livestock.

“This is what we do we stick together we help each other out they'll be good toughest people in the world right here,” Cox said.

As of Tuesday morning, the National Interagency Fire Center says the fire has burned about 1,400 acres. There is no containment.