Utah wildfire officials lifted evacuation orders for the Hobble Creek Canyon, Springville and Mapleton areas on Tuesday afternoon after a south Utah County wildfire forced hundreds of residents to flee their homes overnight.
The Ether Hollow Fire, which started east of Springville on Monday and had burned an estimated 1,000 acres and was 0% contained as of Tuesday morning, is the second major human-caused wildfire in south Utah County in two days. The William Fire, which started on Sunday afternoon a mile southeast of Santaquin, had burned approximately 4,000 acres and was 18% contained as of Tuesday, according to Utah Fire Info.
Wildfire officials announced the start of the Ether Hollow Fire shortly after 6 p.m. on Monday. Within an hour, due to high winds throughout the state, the fire had doubled in size, from 500 acres to 1,000 acres, and “nearly all aerial firefighting resources … (were) unable to fly” near the fire.
Shortly after, officials ordered evacuations for residents in Mapleton, Springville and Hobble Creek Canyon and set up evacuation centers at Mapleton City Hall and a church at 495 S. Canyon Road in Springville. Officials said 211 total homes had been evacuated by 9:45 p.m.
There were “no significant changes overnight” to the Ether Hollow Fire, Utah Fire Info said, adding that overnight rain had “decreased fire activity” but there were “still hot spots within the fire perimeter.”
In a press release on Tuesday, Utah Fire Info announced that evacuation orders in south Utah County would be lifted at noon.
“Rain overnight significantly reduced fire activity,” the press release said. Due to current conditions on the Ether Hollow Fire, residents will be allowed to return to their homes in the Hobble Creek, Springville and Mapleton areas at 12:00 p.m. today. These areas will be on a ‘Pre-Evacuation’ status.”
Pre-evacuation preparation measures include removing flammable window shades and curtains, moving flammable furniture to the center of the room, shutting off air conditioning and propane tanks and preparing farm animals for transport, according to Cal Fire.
Officials added that Whiting Campground in Maple Canyon would remain closed on Tuesday.
“Although the fire area received moisture, conditions can rapidly change and will be monitored continuously,” Utah Fire Info said. “Weather conditions are expected to be favorable today and crews are working to establish containment around the perimeter of the fire.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized the use of federal funds to help cover Ether Fire firefighting costs, noting that 500 homes were threatened by the fire, as well as “a community center, communication towers, phone lines, a watershed, and irrigation and flood control resources in the area.”
“The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires,” the agency announced Monday. “These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.”
Both the Ether Hollow and William fires are believed to have been started by target shooting, which officials have repeatedly advised against, and placed restrictions on, in dry areas of Utah County.
“Two major fires in two days caused by target shooting,” Utah Wildfire Info tweeted on Monday.“This is not the time to carelessly shoot into the wildlands, folks. This has to stop.”
For updates on the Ether Hollow Fire in south Utah County, visit http://utahfireinfo.gov/tag/ether-hollow-fire.