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Homes destroyed in fast-moving fire

UDOT tweeted out this image of crews closing US 89 and I-84.

SOUTH WEBER –Six structures, five homes and one garage, were either destroyed or heavily damaged from the Uintah Fire.  Fire officials say the blaze had blackened more than 1,200 acres by 2:30 this afternoon.

The winds caused the blaze to spread extremely quick through dry brush.  Layton City Fire Marshal Doug Bitton says they had to send over 100 firefighters to the area because the winds were too strong for airplanes to make effective fire retardant drops.   “The reason for the delay is the wind dynamics.  We did do efforts in making some retardant drops with some plane, but, the retardant line just dissipated.  It didn’t go anywhere,” Bitton says.

Bitton adds they have not determined a specific cause, yet, but, witnesses are giving them some clues.  He says, “We do have some early reports of some things that witnesses saw arching [power lines] and sparking on the hillside next to the ‘U.’  It’s called the ‘Classy U’ for Uintah City.”

The biggest potential threat is sloping wind.  Fire investigators say it’s common for winds to get stronger at night in these mountains.  So, people who haven’t been evacuated yet are being told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  Plus, Weber County Commissioner James Ebert says people who have been displaced shouldn’t expect to return home any time soon.  Ebert says, “We anticipate that current evacuation orders for the Uintah-Highlands area to remain in effect throughout the evening, possibly through the night and into tomorrow.”

Two schools, Davis’s South Weber Elementary and Weber’s Uintah Elementary, have been evacuated as a precaution. Residents of multiple streets are also evacuated, with a nearby LDS Church and Ogden’s Dee Events Center serving as temporary shelters.

Multiple agencies are assisting with the response to the fire, but swift winds have made it difficult and occasionally dangerous to use planes or helicopters to help fight the fire.