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Evacuated residents see progress as crews battle Silver King Fire

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jul 08, 2024

MARYSVALE, Utah — Marysvale residents who evacuated because of the dangerous Silver King Fire continue to closely monitor the blaze, believing crews battling the wildfire from the ground and air have made some real progress.

"When I woke up this morning it was just little tiny hot spots," said resident John Ek.

Video below explains why Utah wildfires have seen such rapid growth:

Explaining the rapid growth of multiple Utah wildfires

The Silver King Fire in southwest Utah crept within just a couple miles of Ek's property at the mouth of Bullion Canyon.

"The canyon right there goes up to Miners' Park, and there’s houses part way up there. So they’ve been hitting that pretty hard to try to save those houses," explained Ek.

Helicopters and planes have been making water drops as hotshot crews drop in to try to suppress the fire that broke out after a lightning strike near the Silver King Mine late last week, spreading to more than 10,000 acres.

"You worry," Ek admitted. "The good thing is there’s good people in this town that communicate. And everybody has been helping everybody."

The fire is affecting everyone, even Marysvale's own fire chief who lives up Bullion Canyon.

"Our main concern has been our folks. These are our neighbors. They’re our friends, our family," said Fire Chief John Christensen. "I knocked all those doors when it came time to ask people to evacuate and that’s hard. And it’s hard to go do that when you see the flames behind your house and you’re trying to evacuate your family as well."

The chief is grateful for the quick and immediate response to the wild fire.

"Friday’s attack was pretty good. We had five aircraft. This initial attack was pretty good at that point for suppression," he said.

More than 300 firefighting personnel are now on site, with many more coming under the direction of the interagency Great Basin Critical Response Team 2.

"Our local departments, sister cities, they’ve been wonderful," shared Christensen.

Chief Christensen also thanked those in the community who have donated food to help feed crews and displaced families.

"The people in town are amazing," he said. "The auxiliary group came up and gave out food and water. In fact, we’re full as far as food donations. We’re setting up an account at State Bank of Utah for monetary donations. We could use ‘em."

As the fire rages with zero containment, some residents are trying to live a somewhat normal life while keeping an eye on conditions.

"If a fire comes, it’s important to keep care of our family. That’s what the main thing is," said Calvin Leischer as he played catch with his family at a local park.

The Marysvale resident is appreciative of everyone who’s stepped in to help.

"This is a time when people stand up and you find out who actually cares about you, you know what I mean" But this community and surrounding communities have jumped in and said let’s get this handled," added Leischer.

Like many of those in the area, Ek is aware that wildfires are a part of living in the west, but it’s sad nonetheless.

"That whole mountain that is blackened, it was all covered. Now, all blackened. It’ll grow some shrubs but I won’t see it in my lifetime," said Ek.

Whole mountainsides are now completely charred and fire remains a challenge because of the wind and rugged terrain.

"There’s a huge fireline cut up there," Christensen explained. "They’re cutting some more, and we can definitely slow it down there but what happens is the wind picks up and then it spots. So we’ve been driving around doing spot suppression."

The chief said he’s turned away about a 100 ATV riders in the area, which is a popular place to ride.

Even as the fire burns, Piute County Commissioner Sam Stead reminded everyone that they remain open for business this summer, which is so many local shops relying on summer tourism to make ends meet. Only about 10 miles of the 1,500 trails in area are affected by the wildfire.