1,600 acres burn near Evanston

© 2017-Uinta County Herald

EVANSTON — A wildfire broke out about 10 miles northeast of Evanston on Saturday afternoon, sparked by a fire in a turbine at a windmill farm that quickly spread to nearby vegetation due to gusty wind conditions. Initial Facebook posts by Uinta County Fire and Ambulance placed the size of the blaze — dubbed the “Cowboy Fire”  — at approximately 700 acres. 

Uinta County Fire and Ambulance posted Facebook updates throughout the weekend, with posts Saturday evening describing crews on site from multiple agencies. Uinta County Fire Warden Eric Quinney said crews were on site from Uinta, Sweetwater, and Lincoln counties, as well as from the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“At the height of the fire we had about 50 people on site fighting the fire,” Quinney said.

Quinney said there were fire retardant drops ordered by the BLM on Saturday night, including three drops from very large air tankers out of Billings, Montana, and Grand Junction, Colorado. There were also a couple of drops from smaller planes. A press release by the Bureau of Land Management said that there were eight engines on site to battle the blaze. 

Firefighting crews set up a base camp near the fire.

“Crews camped overnight in the sagebrush areas where they could find a flat spot,” Quinney said.

A Sunday morning Facebook update said that overnight rain and low relative humidity had helped with firefighting efforts. The update also indicated that additional resources had arrived overnight and that a dozer was working the fire line as well. 

By Sunday afternoon Facebook posts by Quinney said that the fire was 50-percent contained and had burned a total of 1,592 acres, with 858 on private land and 734 on BLM land. Firefighters were described as continuing to make good progress on the 18-mile fire line. 

A Sunday evening update said the fire was 70-percent contained and had not grown beyond the 1,592 acres.

Crews had the fire nearly fully contained by Monday morning.

“The fire is basically out at this time and crews will finish getting around the entire 18 miles of fire line today with mop up operations and make sure there are no more flare ups,” Quinney said Monday. 

The BLM press release said full containment was expected by 8 p.m. Monday.  The press release urged the public “to use caution or avoid the area since fire behavior can change and fire spread is unpredictable if high winds develop.”

As to what caused the turbine failure, Quinney said, “We do not know why as of yet. We had another one burn up in the past but it was in the middle of the winter so it did not cause any problems.”

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