WANSHIP, Utah — A lightning-sparked wildfire has destroyed at least a dozen homes and threatens hundreds of others near a Utah resort town.
The blaze near Park City was among several in the West, where fires have devoured dry grass and brush and burned to the edges of small communities in several states. Health officials were monitoring air quality in areas that have been blanketed by smoke for days.
Shifting winds in Utah pushed the fire toward homes in the Lake Rockport Estates subdivision about 10 miles outside of town, said Steve Rutter, a fire management officer with the state, who spoke at a news conference late Tuesday.
“We have homes that are completely surrounded by black, vegetation completely gone. But we were able to preserve the homes,” he said. “It looks really ugly right now. It’s a big black spot but there are still a lot of people who will be able to go home when we open it back up.”
About 250 homes were still “imminently threatened,” he said.
More than 100 people were assigned to help fight the fire. Evacuations were expected to remain in place until at least this evening.
In west-central Utah’s Skull Valley, more than 20 structures were threatened by the Patch Springs Fire that covered some 16 square miles. No evacuations had been ordered.
More than 200 firefighters were working to contain the largest blaze in Utah, which has jumped at least 6 miles across the border into Idaho. The lightning-caused State Fire has charred almost 33 square miles in steep and rugged terrain.
Nationwide, there were 35 large active fires burning Tuesday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. All were in the West. In Idaho, fire crews prepared to capitalize on favorable winds and lower temperatures to continue burnout operations around the small mountain community of Pine, where the Elk Complex remained the nation’s No. 1 firefighting priority.