Saddle Fire To Cost Taxpayers $14 Million

News
PINE VALLEY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) After burning nearly two months, the Saddle Fire in Washington County is now fully contained.
 
While it only burned 2,300 acres, the cost to taxpayers is millions of dollars.
 
Fire crews say the Saddle Fire is among the longest-burning fires next to a community in recent Utah memory. 
 
The steep terrain and inaccessibility made the fire above Pine Valley especially dangerous to more than 900 firefighters sent to control the flames. 
 
That’s why it took so long to fight; crews had to wait for the fire to burn down to an area where they could get to it. 
 
“Really the biggest thing was the risk to firefighters,” Forest Fire Management Officer Kevin Greenhalgh said, Dixie National Forest. 
 
Greenhalgh says more than two inches of rain last week helped crews get a final edge over the fire. 
 
Lightning sparked it on June 13, and flames came closer than a half-mile away from hundreds of homes and cabins in Pine Valley, forcing evacuations. 
 
The final price tag? More than $14.2 million.
 
“It was a more unique fire for it to cost that much when the acres burned as somewhat low,” Greenhalgh said.  
 
The money will be paid with federal and state money set aside for wildfires. In the end, firefighters prevented it from burning a single structure and no one was seriously hurt.
 
Several drone sightings also stalled the fire fight on critical days when the fire made large runs up the mountainside.
 
The Utah legislature held a special session this summer, enacting tougher penalties for flying drones near wildfires. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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