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TOOELE, Utah, July 27, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A fast-moving wildfire forced evacuations near Tooele overnight and fire officials say the danger is far from over.
Ryan Willden, Public Information Officer for the North Tooele Fire District told Gephardt Daily the trouble began about 9:30 p.m. Thursday with reports of flames in Middle Canyon.
When crews arrived they expected to find unattended campfires, something Willden said was not unusual in Middle Canyon. Instead, they encountered a rapidly growing wildfire being fed by gusting winds and tinder dry grass.
Evacuation orders were issued for nearby campgrounds, while additional support was called in from Tooele City, Tooele Army Depot and the Bureau of Land Management.
Below the mountain, residents of Skyline Drive on the outskirts of Tooele City were put on standby for possible evacuations.Residents of Cassidy Rd. and Grimms Rd. were also advised to be ready to flee their homes should the fire advance down the mountain.
Heavy equipment, including bulldozers, have been brought in to cut and improve fire breaks above the city. Air support has also been mobilized and is expected to begin dropping fire retardant once the sunrises.
As of 6 a.m., the fire continued to burn to the west of Tooele City with huge walls of flames rising and fading on the mountainside, driven by hot, dry winds gusts of 20 to 30 mph.
Pockets of heavy timber were also being torched, with tree exploding in flames and lighting up the mountainside.
Those evacuating are asked to assemble at Sterling Middle School at 135 S. 7th Street in Tooele.
Gephardt Daily has a crew on the scene and will update the story as more information becomes available.