25-30 Homes Lost in Utah Wildfire; $7M Damage

June 27, 2012

Firefighting officials said they have 10 percent containment on a central Utah wildfire that’s burned more than two dozen homes in Sanpete County and is threatening about 300 more.

Gov. Gary Herbert arrived by helicopter Monday at the Wood Hollow Fire, where about 58 square miles have burned and damage estimates have mounted to $7 million.

“This is going to be a long, hot summer,” Herbert said, warning Utah residents that “if you start the fire, you’re going to be liable to pay for the fire.”

About a dozen of the homes burned in the fire near the central Utah town of Fountain Green are primary residences. The others may be cabins or summer homes, Herbert said.

The losses also include several dozen sheep, although no other injuries have been reported.

More than 1,000 people remain evacuated from the area, Herbert said. Local officials said some of those people may be able to return to their property Tuesday.

Investigators were still trying to determine what caused the fire. So far this year, the state has recorded 402 wildfires, many of them caused by people starting illegal burns or target shooting in drought-wracked areas.

“It’s not only frustrating, it’s aggravating,” Herbert told reporters at a news conference. “We’re smarter than that in Utah.”

He said costs are likely to mount as the state heads into the primary fire season, when lightning strikes could touch off fires and stretch resources thin.

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