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'Big Hollow Fire' still raging in Wasatch County, but firefighters are optimistic

Posted at 12:50 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-18 09:55:39-04

DANIEL, Utah — The human-caused “Big Hollow Fire” continued to rage in Wasatch County near Heber Friday.

The fire started around 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, forcing some mandatory and voluntary evacuations.

The mandatory evacuations were lifted around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, but voluntary evacuations are still in effect. Friday afternoon, it was estimated at 418 acres and 22 percent contained.

Despite all that, firefighters have some reasons for optimism.

Overnight temperatures cooled off considerably and the winds died down which cleared the way for an aerial assault on the flames as well as a ground attack.

“Yeah, the weather is going help us out a little bit today,” said Mike Eriksson with Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

It was a very stressful night for the crews on the ground and the residents living nearby.

The flames were raging at different points and continued flaring up until just before sun up.

Crews hope to make good progress Friday, but only if people stay out of the area and keep their drones out of the air.

“We’re going to have a big air show today and if you get one drone in here it’s going to shut it all down, that’s going to impact our folks on the ground who won’t get the water resources they need to back them up in the work they’re doing,” Eriksson said. “It just makes it really dangerous so please just stay out of the area and let those firefighters do their work up there.”

The first and foremost concern is keeping flames away from homes and getting them doused. But officials say what’s in the back of everyone’s mind is the fire didn’t need to happen, that it is the result of someone’s extremely poor decisions Thursday.

“It is a little frustrating when these things can all be prevented, they are human caused,” Erikkson said. “If they would’ve just taken a little more thought or been prepared with something to extinguish the fire we might not be here right now.”

The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office is investigating and if the person who started the fire is identified, they could face criminal charges and potentially civil penalties to pay for what is likely going to be a very expensive firefighting operation.

Authorities issued an update on their progress Saturday morning.