This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
On the fire lines, in the air and behind the controls of heavy equipment, crews braced Saturday for hot weather and gusty winds they feared could fan the Twitchell Canyon wildfire further out of control.
Nearly 400 firefighters, aided by six water-bearing helicopters, two bulldozers and 14 fire engines, were in a race against time to rein in the 2-month-old, lightning-ignited blaze in central Utah's Fishlake National Forest.
Already tinder dry, the mixed conifer forests and brush lands burning in steep, remote terrain threatened to flare even more as winds of up to 30 mph were expected to arrive late Saturday and early today. As of midday Saturday, the blaze officially had blackened 22,200 acres, said Forest Service spokesman Jesse Bender.
The National Weather Service issued a "Red Flag" alert for much of the state, warning that potential for wildfires was extreme. Meteorologists said crews battling the flames in the Twitchell Canyon area could expect steady 15-20 mph winds with gusts of 30 mph or more.
"We're not getting a whole lot of new activity kicking up yet," Bender said. "But do have that Red Flag warning still in effect, and the winds are expected to pick up here going into later this weekend."
There was no estimate for containment since interior portions of the fire were being allowed to burn as a fire-management tool. Firefighters focused instead on preventing the blaze from spreading on its perimeters, and keeping flames away from campgrounds and structures.
Periodically, heavy smoke continued to restrict traffic along a 12-mile stretch of Interstate 70. One lane was left open for through traffic, with the remaining lanes when not closed for lack of visibility reserved for firefighting vehicles, the Utah Highway Patrol said.
Rock Campground remained under a voluntary evacuation. The following roads and trails had been closed for public and firefighter safety:
Forest Road 119 • Indian Creek Road at Pole Creek Junction (Forest Road 589).
Forest Road 114 • Shingle Creek Road intersection with the Paiute Trail Mud Flat Road (Forest Road 583).
Forest Road 113 • Mill Creek Road (Kimberly) from Mud Springs (junction of Forest Road 116 Sevier Canyon Road) to Kimberly Junction.