Winds a major worry for firefighters battling William Fire in Utah County

Sep 8, 2020, 5:33 AM
Strong winds could ground helicopters, who are helping build containment lines on the William Fire ...
Strong winds could ground helicopters, who are helping build containment lines on the William Fire in Utah County. (Photo: Utah Fire Info.)
(Photo: Utah Fire Info.)

SANTAQUIN, Utah – The 2,000-acre William Fire burning near Santaquin in Utah County has been a challenge for firefighters because of the steep terrain. 

There is only one access point for fire crews, for now, off Pole Creek Road. 

Incident spokeswoman Jennifer Hansen says the type of brush it is burning has also been difficult. 

“It’s mostly burning and consuming Gambel oak, and that is burning very intensely because it’s extremely dry,” Hansen says.

That’s why fire crews have been relying on helicopters to help them build containment lines. 

“Some of the thicker timber fuels that hold the heat, that’s why they need that water,” Hansen says. “To really build a good line that would hold.” 

But the major winds hitting Utah on Tuesday will most likely make the William Fire that more difficult to knockdown. 

“We may lose the ability to utilize the helicopters, who are providing bucket drops. They’re bringing water to the hand crews that are working in the steeper part of the fire perimeter,” Hansen says. 

This is a major worry for firefighters. 

However, Hansen says they are hoping the storm which brings the wind will also bring rain, or at least more humidity to help them in the firefight. 

They are also asking people not to stop and gawk at the fire or fly a drone. 

Although Pole Creek Road is closed off, people in the surrounding areas have been stopping to watch the fire. That gets in the way of fire crews trying to make it to the scene. 

Drones can also get in the way of helicopters and other aircraft trying to do water drops. 

Investigators are on scene, but as of now it’s unclear exactly what sparked the William Fire on Sunday. It is 5% contained as of Monday evening.

Arctic storm system to bring high winds and cold temps to northern Utah

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Winds a major worry for firefighters battling William Fire in Utah County