Officials: Whiskey Fire likely started by shooters

Aug 20 2012 - 12:13pm

SALT LAKE CITY -- A wildfire that has burned 272 acres was likely started by target shooters in Wasatch County -- just a short distance from another human-caused blaze that was fully contained after threatening residences near the Jordanelle Reservoir, officials said Monday.

The Whiskey Fire remained uncontained and has burned conifer and oak brush near Daniels Canyon, southeast of Heber, said Jason Curry, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

The blaze was not threatening any structures. It was reported about noon Sunday by people target shooting on private property, Curry said.

About 150 firefighters and two helicopters were battling the Whiskey Fire, a job made difficult because there are few access roads into the area.

The fire started just as crews were containing the Fox Bay Fire, which began Saturday and caused the evacuation of about 250 residences for 24 hours. The fire came close to the 144-unit Fox Bay condominium project.

Janet Carson, a spokeswoman for Wasatch County Fire, said the Fox Bay Fire was burning next to the Jordanelle Fire Station -- the only full-time fire station in the county.

"It's ironic because residents of Jordanelle have been protesting paying for the full-time fire station," Carson said. "If they wouldn't have been here to respond immediately, the entire Jordanelle Basin could have (burned)."

Carson said protests over the extra $12.15 monthly charge have been ongoing for about a year.

The Fox Bay Fire burned about 550 acres before being contained Sunday. Residents returned to their homes in the Fox Bay, Stillwater and Shores areas, and visitors to Jordanelle State Park were allowed to retrieve their property.

Officials were trying to determine its cause, but Carson said six ignition points have been identified along Highway 40. She said it's possible a vehicle backfiring or dragging a chain could have sparked the fire.

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