Utah fires prompt evacuations, local emergency declaration

Chaffin Mitchell

Evacuation orders were triggered in the early morning hours on Sunday after fireworks ignited a wildfire on Traverse Mountain near the city of Lehi, fire officials said.

Wind gusts of more than 40 mph quickly spread the blaze, dubbed the "Traverse Fire", across 150 to 200 acres, which lead to the evacuation of more than 40 homes around 12:30 a.m., on Sunday.

The Traverse Fire burns near homes in Lehi, Utah, Sunday, June 28, 2020. Officials say fireworks caused the wildfire and forced evacuations early Sunday morning. (Justin Reeves via AP)

Newer figures for the blaze put it closer to 1,000 acres burned, according to Fox 13 News.

Evacuation centers were quick to open, but one closed shortly after due to "no clients at the evacuation center," The American Red Cross of Utah tweeted.

Officials told residents to evacuate if they were concerned or weren't sure if their area was under the evacuation order.

The Traverse Fire burns behind homes in Lehi, Utah, Sunday, June 28, 2020. Officials say fireworks caused the wildfire and forced evacuations early Sunday morning. (Justin Reeves via AP)

"If you are concerned you should evacuate, please do not call 911 or dispatch. Just evacuate if you are concerned," Lehi Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) wrote on Twitter.

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Multiple power outages were reported in the area of the fire, the Utah Division of Emergency Management said on Twitter.

According to Lehi Fire Chief Jeremy Craft, no major damage was reported to any homes or structures, Fox 13 reported.

A suspect linked to the fireworks that ignited the wildfire is cooperating with law enforcement, officials said.

Utah Fire Info posted a message reiterating that the discharge of fireworks is prohibited in Utah except during certain time frames, including the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve. During those days, some areas are still off-limits to firework use due to increased wildfire danger.

A second blaze, dubbed the Knolls Fire, erupted nearby in Saratoga Springs during Sunday afternoon, prompting 13,000 residents to evacuate. The mayor and city council declared a local emergency due to the raging blaze.

"The fire itself is moving primarily away from structures. We're still doing some mop-up behind some of the homes that were affected," Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Jess Campbell said Sunday evening, according to Deseret News.

The cause of the Knolls Fire remains under investigation, but early reports indicated it may have been started by lightning.

Gusty winds continued to fan ongoing wildfires across much of the area on Monday, including places from the California coastline to Utah and western Colorado.

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