MAPLETON — Another fire sparked in Utah County Monday evening, prompting home evacuations near Mapleton — and pleas from fire officials to stop reckless behavior.
“Two major fires in two days caused by target shooting,” Utah fire officials said on Twitter. “This is not the time to carelessly shoot into the wildlands folks. This has to stop.”
The fire northeast of Mapleton, named the Ether Hollow Fire, had grown to 1,000 acres by Monday night. About 211 homes were evacuated, with 500 considered threatened. Residents were offered emergency shelter at Mapleton City Hall, 125 W. 400 North and at a second shelter set up at 495 S. Canyon Road in Springville, according to Kait Webb, spokeswoman for the Ether Hollow Fire.
Fire officials reported both upper and lower sections of the Grind Stone community up Hobble Creek Canyon had been evacuated. Maple Canyon and Whiting Campground were also evacuated, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Webb said about 15 homes on the north east side of Mapleton, located at the base of the mountain range, had also been evacuated.
“Unbelievable how fast wildfire can spread,” the Utah County fire marshal tweeted. “A big shoutout to all the wildland firefighters out working on our behalf tonight!”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency late Monday authorized the use of federal funds to help fight the Ether Hollow Fire.
At the time of the request for federal aid, the fire was threatening 500 homes in the Hobble Creek community, according to a FEMA news release. The fire was also threatening a community center, communication towers, phone lines, a watershed, and irrigation and flood control resources in the area. Federal funds will pay 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant. The grants don’t provide assistance to individual home or business owners.
Roughly 80 firefighting personnel had been assigned to fight the fire Monday night. Due to high winds that began blowing that evening, aerial firefighting resources were limited, but some helicopters had been sent to help fight the fire, Webb said.
“The weather conditions are going to be a challenge for firefighters,” she said, adding that winds were expected to persist throughout the night.
The Ether Hollow Fire is the second large-scale wildfire that erupted in Utah County this week — and the second fire officials suspect was started by target shooting.
The William Fire started Sunday near Santaquin and grew to about 2,000 acres by Monday evening and was 5% contained, according to fire officials.
Webb urged Utahns to be cautious in the “incredibly dry” conditions.
“Especially today, you’ve had red flag warnings, and that’s been pretty consistent this year,” Webb said. “So we’re really asking the public to heed those types of weather precautions and really think about fire safety.”
The blaze began one mile southeast of Santaquin and spread south due to strong winds and low humidity. Engines from Santaquin, Payson, Genola and Rocky Ridge initially responded, along with Utah County fire crews and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Land resources.
About 120 personnel were fighting the blaze Monday along with four helicopters, 13 engines, two water tenders, two bulldozers and a hotshot crew. Most of the fire growth Monday occurred in the south and southwest, fire officials said.
“We had one cabin within the area that there was some concern, so they kept resources including a county dozer to secure the line around that cabin,” said Jennifer Hansen, a public information officer for the Northern Utah Interagency Type 3 Incident Management Team.
The cabin was unoccupied, and the line has held, she said.
Contributing: Daedan Olander