WASHINGTON CITY — A change in wind direction sent the Turkey Farm Road Fire blazing to the east where hundreds of homes off of Green Springs Drive stood directly in the path of the blaze, as air tankers and firefighters worked to create a fire line to stop the fire from spreading any further.
As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the fire has grown to more than 11,700 acres, Venhuizen said.
Shortly after 1:30 p.m., the Turkey Farm Road Fire, which was reported shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, flared up after it burned through more than 1,660 acres overnight, Christian Venhuizen with the Bureau of Land Management told St. George News early Tuesday, adding that crews would have a battle on their hands with a Red Flag Warning in effect.
That turned out to be the case when the strong winds reversed direction Tuesday afternoon, causing fire crews to lose containment of the blaze that by then was spreading to the east, where it continued across an expansive area toward the large subdivisions off of Green Springs Drive.
That is when multiple aircraft, including very large air tankers, or V-Lans, Venhuizen said, were brought in to drop retardant and water creating a fire line to prevent the blaze from spreading east. The blitz continued for hours as aircraft dropped fire retardant, one right after the other in quick succession, to create a fire line to stop the blaze from spreading any closer to the residential area.
“The fire line is holding right now,” he added.
Air tankers and other aircraft filled large tanks with water supplied by the upper pond of the Green Springs Golf Course.
One of the tankers, a DC 10, and one of the largest aircraft used in wildland firefighting, was called in from Arizona to assist the effort. It holds 12,000 gallons of water or retardant that can be dropped in one continuous stream that extends for more than a mile.
Authorities also released an alert announcing an evacuation of all visitors from the north end of Quail Creek Reservoir, as “a helicopter will be taking water from Quail today,” the alert issued at 1:30 stated.
More than a dozen Washington City Police officers were also dispatched to the area to cordon off streets and begin evacuating the residents after an order went out, Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams said, adding that the order was lifted less than 45 minutes later and residents returned to their homes.
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, authorities have reason to believe it was ignited by fireworks. Fire investigators are seeking the public’s help to identify three teenage boys who were seen driving a white sedan on Cottonwood Road at around 9 p.m. Monday. Anyone with information that can help investigators identify the suspects involved is being asked to call 435-704-4456.
Multiple state and local fire departments responded and continue to fight the blaze that will be mapped using aircraft to determine a more accurate level of containment later in the evening, if weather conditions permit.
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