SPANISH FORK — Thanks to a brief but helpful break from Utah’s dry summer conditions, firefighters have continued to tighten their control of the Coal Hollow Fire, lifting some closure and evacuation warnings Tuesday morning.
The fire, which has consumed nearly 30,000 acres, is 47 percent contained as of Tuesday, according to fire officials.
Officials lifted the closure of Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and pre-evacuation orders of zones 2 and 15, two large swaths of land north of U.S. 6.
“The thunderstorms and the moisture that we talked about yesterday, forecasted, did show up last night around 10 o’clock,” said Rob Powell, Coal Hollow operations chief, in a daily video update.
Officials are attributing some of their progress to brief rain showers that moved into the Great Basin area Monday night. While the precipitation in the area only reached about .29 inches of rainfall, the high relative humidity throughout the day aided their efforts.
“The weather gave us a heck of a benefit here,” Powell said. “Mother Nature is helping us out.”
On the other side of U.S. 6, evacuation and closure orders remained in effect Tuesday. This includes evacuations and Manti-La Sal National Forest closures south of the highway.
As a precautionary measure, forest officials said they plan to close more areas on the west side of Lake Fork Road since the fire has made a slow march into that area.
The reprieve from dry conditions is forecasted to continue into Tuesday and Wednesday nights, possibly offering firefighters more opportunity to better their handle on the flames.
Smoky conditions have also improved thanks to rainfall across the Wasatch Front, and Salt Lake City was expected to have moderate air quality Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Coal Hollow Fire started in early August from lightning, authorities believe, and estimate it to be fully contained by Sept. 1.
The resources used to fight the fire, a total of 642 personnel, 33 engines and seven helicopters — to name a few — have cost an estimated $11.6 million.