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'Saddle Fire' near Midway has burned 630 acres, juvenile suspected of starting it and three others

150 firefighters have it 15% contained
Posted at 6:36 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 14:04:52-04

MIDWAY, Utah — The "Saddle Fire" continued to burn north of Midway Wednesday, and a juvenile has been taken into custody on suspicion of starting it and three other recent fires in the area.

The Saddle Fire has now consumed more than 630 acres and is 15 percent contained.

Firefighting crews on the ground and in the air continued battling the wildfire in the hills above Midway.

All morning helicopters were loading up with water and then dousing the flames on the hillside. They hope to have the upper hand on this blaze by later this afternoon.

This is the latest of four separate fires that were set on purpose, allegedly by the same juvenile suspect.

“Yeah, surprised and angry because yesterday was the fourth in five days," said Chris Burkley, who was evacuated due to the Saddle Fire.

The first three were small but strong winds Tuesday afternoon quicky pushed it to nearly 200 acres, prompting the evacuation of a dozen homes in the area.

“My Neighbor tells me about it, I’m looking from her porch and it was just started," Burkley said. "I go into her house for two minutes, come back out and look at it, it was six or seven times bigger, the wind was just taking it right up the hill.”

Firefighters on the ground established a perimeter around the flames and helped keep them in check overnight.

Now, with the support of helicopters and aircraft, the team feels confident they can contain the fire and keep it away from homes.

Meanwhile forest service officials are also warning everyone about something that could jeopardize those efforts.

“Do not fly drones anywhere near an active wildfire," said Kait Webb with the Utah Division of Forestry and State Lands. "That puts our resources at risk and it can hinder our operation, so that’s really dangerous."

Even though arson is the suspected cause of all four fires this past week, officials say people should really be thinking about wildfire safety, because it's been a very dry April and because a lot of people -- cooped up by COVID-19 pandemic -- will likely be heading into the great outdoors very soon.

“We’ve had a dry last month, and it has been a little warmer so fuels are susceptible," Webb said. "There is wildfire risk in the state of Utah right now so people really need to be responsible and thinking about wildfire safety when they are out and about.”

Firefighters hope to have containment on the Saddle Fire by later Wednesday afternoon and allow the few full-time residents who were displaced to return home.