Officials with the U.S. Forest Service confirmed the Goose Point Fire on West Mountain near Payson has been 60% contained after burning through 6,500 acres.
The wildfire sparked Wednesday night and crews, led by the Forest Service, are using heavy equipment to protect an estimated 15 homes along the bench of the mountain, including an observatory on West Mountain operated by Brigham Young University.
The plan for Thursday, according to Kim Osborn with the Forest Service, is to dig bulldozer lines around the perimeter of the fire.
There are two helicopters, eight engines, a dozer and about 80 firefighters on the fire Thursday.
No evacuations have been ordered, Osborn said.
“We’re always on alert because the fire isn’t that far away,” she said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though Forest Service officials believe industrial equipment sparked the blaze.
McKenzi Millward and her sister, Kacie Safford, stood in their front yard Thursday morning to watch the wildfire creep closer. They live with their spouses and parents in a home at the bottom of the mountain near Lincoln Bench Road.
“Last night we weren’t even worried,” Safford said. “At 5 o’clock this morning, we got a little concerned because the flames were really big.”
The family spotted the fire when it started somewhere on the southwest side of the peak around 2 a.m., Millward said.
“By 7 a.m., it was halfway down the mountain,” she said, glancing at the paved driveway covered in black ash and soot.
Firefighters started back burning along the edges of the roads and property lines in an effort to reduce the amount of fuel and protect a newly planted orchard on the northeast side of the slope.
“I had binoculars and I was watching the firefighters fight the edge of the orchard,” Millward said. “Those firefighters have literally walked for miles.”
Another neighbor, Richard Briggs, lives with his wife on five acres of property located closest to the fire at the top of the neighborhood. They have only lived in their home since moving from Las Vegas in May.
“I kept an eye on it all night,” Briggs said of the fire. “It was moving fairly fast. But I guess West Mountain has a history with fire.”
On Thursday morning, neighbors gathered along the edge of his property to help spray water on the house and yard.
“This year, we had plenty to do with trying to get things started like building a barn,” Briggs said. “I didn’t keep the weeds under control like I probably will next year. I’ve learned my lesson.”