SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 19, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) –- Gov. Gary R. Herbert has departed on a trade mission to Asia, after declaring he has full confidence in firefighters battling a pair of merged wildfires in Utah County that have now burned more than 100,000 acres.
Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon tweeted Wednesday morning the Pole Creek Fire is 84,444 acres and 25 percent contained, while the Bald Mountain Fire is at 16,554 acres and 12 percent contained. A total of 1,954 personnel are assigned to the fires.
Herbert’s trade mission to Asia includes 20 Utah companies and six organizations. He has joined the mission’s second leg in Taiwan, having canceled his plans to be in South Korea earlier this week due to the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires.
Prior to departing, Herbert issued the following statement:
I’m reluctant to leave the state while these fires continue to burn. Nonetheless, I have full confidence in the firefighters working to protect our communities and suppress the flames.
Ever since Friday, I have been at the Incident Command Post each day, meeting with fire managers, local leaders, and agency officials. I have walked through the communities on the front lines of the fires. I am impressed with the experienced leadership of the firefighting teams and I am confident in their plans to fully suppress these fires. I am grateful for the way our firefighters are executing on those plans. I marvel at the cooperation shown by federal, state, county, municipal and private sector leaders. I am appreciative of their tireless efforts to protect our citizens, their homes, their livestock, and the infrastructure that provides their livelihood. And I am in awe of the miracles that have preserved life and property thus far.
Because of the strong protections now in place for our communities, I am cautiously optimistic that our firefighters will have good news for us regarding progress on containment in the coming days.
I will continue to monitor the progress of the fire through my second-in-command Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, Maj. Jess Anderson, acting head of our Department of Public Safety, and State Forester and fire expert Brian Cottam.
The Governor has made arrangements to return immediately should conditions merit.
The expected containment date for the fires is Oct. 1.