A fire in Summit County, Utah has burned 13 homes plus about 20 other structures and several vehicles, forcing the evacuation dozens of people. The Rockport Fire continues to rage on Wednesday.
The blaze near Park City was among several in the West where fires have devoured dry grass and brush and burned to the edges of small communities.
Shifting winds in Utah pushed the fire toward homes in a subdivision about 10 miles outside Park City. It destroyed a dozen homes on Tuesday, plus another home overnight. Fire officials say it also burned 20 outbuildings and several vehicles and boats.
The fire began near a populated area and quickly grew to more than 1,200 acres, or nearly 2 square miles. Flames were flaring up later Wednesday with rising temperatures and winds. Fire spokeswoman Jennifer Hansen said about 250 homes were still threatened, including those along a golf course in the town of Promotory.
As of 10:50 a.m. MDT, the fire was back down to between 1,200 and 1,500 acres after getting up to 4,000 acres last night. It’s still only five percent contained.
Around 250 homes in four neighborhoods–Rockport Estates, Rockport Ranches, Bridge Hollow, and Promontory–were under the evacuation order, which was called voluntary for adults but mandatory for children. About 215 homes are still threatened, said Rutter.
The fire was originally burning near the Lake Rockport Estates near State Road 32 near Coalville and Wanship.
Some people returned to their homes on August 14.
Brenda Child was at a nearby lake with her 6-year-old grandson when she saw the flames Tuesday afternoon. She raced home in her car, and ran into the house with her shirt covering her mouth to avoid breathing in the smoke. She grabbed her dog, computer and insurance policy and left. When she was allowed to return Wednesday, she found the 3,000-square-foot house she and her husband moved into three months ago untouched.
“I was absolutely horrified that our house was going to be gone,” Child said.
The North Summit Middle School at 64 South 100 East was made into an evacuation center by the Red Cross on Tuesday; another one was established at an LDS church at 510 Silver Summit Parkway in Park City. It will stay open until at least 6 p.m. MDT.
The fire was sparked by lightning.
Russ Moseley chose to stay in his home and fight back flames with a garden hose as it came within 150 feet, he told The Salt Lake Tribune. He said he could feel the heat radiating on his face and saw the fire swallow homes below his and blow up propane tanks.
“It’s like being in Vietnam,” Moseley said.
Two helicopters were sent in to douse the fire with retardant and two Blackhawks were expected to join the battle later today.
Homes in Rockport Estates are worth around $250,000, and many were built in the 1970s as summer camps, but have since been improved for year-round residents, said Summit County Assessor Steve Martin. The subdivision is about 10 miles northeast of Park City.
Evacuations were also ordered in the Bridgehollow subdivision and in the exclusive Promontory, a community of more than 350 multimillion-dollar homes built around a golf course.
Flames crept right up to a ridgeline where the homes sit amid shifting winds, coming within 100 yards of some of the expensive homes.
Promontory is a 7,200 acre, 10-square-mile private mountain community offering diverse year-round recreational amenities and activities for residents. Other threatened homes are summer residences.
Elsewhere in Utah, several other serious wildfires were burning on Wednesday, including one referred to as the State Fire, which has burned over 22,900 acres since lightning sparked it on August 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.