Drone interference risked lives in southern Utah wildfires, crews say

Utah Wildfires

UPDATE 7/16 9:00 a.m: The Veyo West Fire has burned approximately 2618 acres after an infrared flight mapped the fire perimeter Wednesday morning for a more accurate assessment. The fire is currently 20% contained. Firefighters have now secured 25% containment on the Turkey Farm Road Fire and held the fire at 11,993 acres. Crews managed to hold the perimeter of the fires during high winds Wednesday afternoon and improve containment lines. There are currently no evacuations in place in Washington County.

UPDATE 7/16 2:00 P.M: Fire investigators are still working to identify the 3 suspects responsible for setting off the illegal fireworks which sparked the Turkey Farm Road Fire and have established a new tip line: (775) 355-5337.

WASHINGTON COUNTY (ABC4 News) – As crews continue to battle the Turkey Farm Road and West Veyo wildfires in smoke-filled southwestern Utah, fire managers say drone interference halted essential air operations for a length of time Tuesday night.

“This puts not only firefighters and air crews lives’ at risk, but also potentially the public’s lives as this intrusion stops one of our best firefighting tools if all aviation assets are grounded,” Kevin Abel with the U.S. Forest Service said. “We urge people to stay away from all fire operations for the safety of our crews and themselves.”

The fireworks-caused Turkey Farm Road fire burning three miles west of Washington City has now reached 11,993 acres. Approximately 200 homes were evacuated Tuesday afternoon for about an hour in the Green Springs area of Washington City north of Washington Parkway, but aggressive suppression efforts have protected surrounding communities near the area.

Resources assigned to the fire include 12 engines, three water tenders, two dozers, three Type 2 crews, two Type 1 hotshot crews, eight overhead and five helicopters.

The Veyo West fire is estimated at approximately 2,600 acres after an overnight IR flight, officials said. By Wednesday afternoon, crews had made substantial progress on the ease side of the fire along SR-18. The flames were initially threatening more than 800 homes, but evacuations in west Veyo and Brookside have been lifted.

Both blazes are zero percent contained.

As the red flag warning that was extended until Tuesday night is now lifted, firefighters are focusing on “holding the control lines established and minimizing any further growth.”

Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.

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

Utah VP Debate

More Utah Debate