Wildfires Ablaze In The West - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/29/05-NEW HARMONY, Utah

Wildfires Ablaze In The West

Relieved residents of a southwest Utah housing development that was nearly consumed by a 12,000-acre wildfire have returned to their homes, with some finding that the flames had stopped just short of their property.

"God was looking out for us. Our property was unharmed," said Emily Jones, whose home was within 50 feet of the fire.

High wind pushed the blaze toward the Harmony Heights development just south of New Harmony late Monday, and officials ordered the evacuation of about 1,200 residents in the area. Officials believe that only about 80 families actually left, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd.

Hundreds of firefighters got unexpected help when the wind calmed, and the evacuation order was lifted Tuesday.

Linda and Jack Reed didn't know what to expect when returning to their Harmony Heights home.

"When we left here, there was a wall of fire at the end of the neighborhood. I've never seen or heard anything like it," Linda Reed said.

But she said they "were amazingly lucky" to find their home intact Tuesday.

At New Harmony, about 30 miles northwest of St. George, the edge of the brush and grass fire came within a mile of some homes. But no buildings had been lost in the community about 280 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Elsewhere in Utah's southwestern corner, a lightning storm started two new wildfires Tuesday that threatened the town of Motoqua, a cluster of 12 homes about 25 miles west of St. George. Officials late Tuesday said the community no longer faced immediate danger.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Tuesday that 21 large fires had burned more than 769,000 acres in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

Arizona's biggest fire, about 30 miles north of Phoenix, grew to 140,000 acres by Tuesday night and was expected to spread. The lightning-sparked blaze was about 20 percent contained early Wednesday, fire officials said.

Evacuations had not been ordered, but if the fire crosses the Verde River, authorities said it could push into a canyon and potentially into two small towns. Another fire near Roosevelt Dam was expected to be fully contained by Thursday.

In Nevada, a 33,500-acre wildfire that had blanketed Las Vegas with smoke and prompted the evacuation of a Boy Scout camp was nearing containment. But elsewhere in the southern part of the state, firefighters dug in as a buffer narrowed to 10 miles between a railroad town and two big fires in an uninhabited area that's home to desert tortoises.

Hundreds of firefighters worked to stem flames in mountains south of Caliente, while others protected a Union Pacific Railroad line through Meadow Valley, 50 miles north of Las Vegas.


David Chevalier, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, could not provide acreage figures but said not all the area within the rugged and remote 628-square-mile fire zone was burned.

On the Net:

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

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