FILLMORE, Utah — It’s been one week since the Halfway Hill Fire was started near Fillmore. As it continues to burn, community members are meeting with fire officials to outline their plans to continue to fight the fire and to protect the community in the future.
Since then, helicopters and air tankers have taken to the skies, crews have worked hard on the mountainside, and four people were arrested for abandoning a campfire and starting the massive blaze.
On Friday, crews provided an update to community members and live on Facebook:
Thankfully, they said, monsoon rains in the area have helped over the last few days.
“It has given us an option to get a little bit closer to try and get [ground crews] to the edge of the fire where we can get them in safely without getting them hurt, and try to make the footprint that this fire ends up being a little bit smaller than what it would have been,” fire official Clay Stevens said Friday to start the meeting.
This was one of three fires within a few miles of each other when it's for sparked, thankfully volunteer fire crews in the area worked quickly and are credited with an initial attack that prevented structures from being lost.
“While we're responding to all of that, I want to make a point: We were witnesses to an amazing first fire suppression response by your local volunteers and Interagency Fire,” Millard County Sheriff Richard Jacobson said. “I know this fire seems like a beast up here, and it is, but I can only imagine what it would have become without those initial efforts.”
But once the fire becomes fully contained, officials are worried about the aftermath — such as flooding and issues with the headwater leading into the community.
“You know, the worst thing that could ever happen is we can get fire in this country,” said Brian Monroe with the U.S. Forest Service. “I said it's the headwaters. I mean, the fallout of that would be terrible. Well, here we are. So that same hillside is now clean of beetle-kill, but we've got another problem now.”
It’s a challenge that is already being discussed in the community, and one that forestry experts will take up in the coming weeks and months.
And even though suppression is going well, crews are warning those it isn’t time yet to return to the area.
“It doesn't mean there's not going to be smoke up there for quite some time," said Steve Shaw, the incident commander with Great Basin Team 4. "And it doesn't mean that Brian or the other administrators are going to be willing to open that land back up and take the chance of that fire moving and get back to recreating.”