Elk Ridge, Woodland Hills residents come home under pre-evacuation status 09

Smoke rises from the mountainside Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Elk Ridge. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The Pole Creek Fire passed 100,000 in size by Sunday morning, and fire officials say that there is additional growth potential throughout the day Sunday.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Pole Creek Fire was reported Sunday morning at 101,423 acres, with the Bald Mountain Fire at 18,596 acres. The Pole Creek Fire is 34 percent contained and the Bald Mountain Fire has reached 20 percent containment.

Firefighters are expecting high wind speeds and low humidity on Sunday, with it being a red flag day, which the U.S. Forest Service says could lead to increased fire activity. In the early afternoon, a cold front is expected to move across the area, producing potential for thunderstorms and for a change in wind directions.

The Wildland Fire and Air Quality Response Program said that smoke is expected to travel more northeast, creating better air quality through the day in Utah County.

“During the early morning hours, Spanish Fork, Provo and Payson are anticipated to have Moderate conditions, transitioning to Good conditions later in the day,” the organization said in its morning update. Other areas of Utah County are expected have air quality in the “good” range throughout the day.

On Saturday night, fire crews completed a secondary line around the Covered Bridge area in Spanish Fork Canyon, and were successful in containing more lines east of Diamond Fork, as well as along U.S. Highway 89.

The U.S. Forest Service also reported that night crews conducted tactical firing operations in the Wanrhodes Creek Road area to protect structures and homes.

Priorities Sunday will be protecting structures in the Wanrhodes Creek and Covered Bridge areas, the U.S. Forest Service reported, as well as conducting structure assessments in the Hobble Creek area.

Pole Creek Fire Map - 9/23

Fire perimeter map as of Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018.

Evacuations and closures

On Saturday, evacuated residents in Woodland Hills and Elk Ridge were allowed home after more than a week away from their homes.

The cities are still on pre-evacuation status and the surrounding forest areas are under mandatory evacuation. About 70 homes in Elk Ridge above the golf course won’t have their gas turned on until Monday.

Residents in the Covered Bridge community, Diamond Fork, Sheep Creek and the Right Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon remain under evacuation.

Pre-evacuation were also lifted Friday for parts of Payson, Salem and the Spanish Fork area commonly known as Spanish Oaks.

Other road closures and evacuations remain in place, including closures in Payson Canyon, Santaquin Canyon, the Nebo Loop Road at State Route 132 in Nephi Canyon and the Right Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon.

“While both Highway 6 and Highway 89 are open, due to fire operations that are ongoing along both roads please drive carefully, no stopping and drive at the suggested speed of 45 mph,” the U.S. Forest Service said in its morning update.

Thank-you’s

Fire officials thanked the community for support for firefighters Sunday morning, pointing out the hundreds of thank-you cards they received from students at Salem Hills High School over the weekend.

The fire officials said that while they appreciate the desire to donate to the firefighting effort, the firefighters have all needs met at the fire camp.

“Firefighters pack to be on assignment for 14 days,” the U.S. Forest Service wrote in a social media post. “This includes work clothes, personal clothes, toiletries, camping equipment, and other comfort items. They are provided with food, water, snacks, sports drinks, ice, and a multitude of other supplies. There is a caterer on site who provides over 7,000 calories a day through hot breakfast, bag lunch, and hot dinner. And also a laundry service that can wash their clothes.”

The organization said that what you can do for firefighters is to thank them for their work.

“If you would like to do something for the firefighters, what means most are the thank yous, both signs around the community and personal notes,” they wrote. “Firefighters also appreciate pre-stamped post cards to send home to their loved ones.”

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