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Fire near Flaming Gorge decreases to 85 acres

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 17, 2023

DAGGETT COUNTY, Utah — A new wildfire in the northeast corner of Utah forced a popular campground to be evacuated Monday.

Utah Wildfire Info reported that the "Sunny Cove Fire," burning near Flaming Gorge Reservoir, was sparked by lightning.

As of Tuesday night, the fire was estimated at 85 acres with 20 percent containment.

The start of the fire startled those who witnessed it.

"It was clouding over... there was thunder, lightning, and a lightning bolt hit... and the next thing we know there's smoke coming up," said Jim Williams.

"We had upwards of 50-to-100-foot flame lengths," explained Rich Howe, district fire management officer with Ashley National Forest. "With the cooler weather that's come through today it's calmed down quite a bit, allowing the crews to come in and work with the helicopter to extinguish the hotspots"

The fire originally caused the nearby Mustang Campground to be evacuated out of precaution. Officials said there were about 70-80 trailers in that area. Around 160 evacuees gathered at a church and a community center in the town of Dutch John.

Those with vehicles at the Mustang Ridge Boat Ramp will be escorted to the area on Tuesday to retrieve them.

According to fire officials, there were 3 hand crews assigned to the area, 4 engines, a bulldozer and two helicopters.

For people like Howe and Williams, it's been hard to see part of the view they love burn so quickly.

"It's kinda sad that it has to happen," said Williams, "but it's Mother Nature and it does happen; fortunately, we got some great people that are able to put the flames out, take care of it and keep everyone safe"

Howe said the winds that are coming through with Tuesday's storm are a big concern for the fire fighters, but they're hoping for some rain to help extinguish the hotspots