West Veyo and Turkey Farm fires burn thousands of acres, still 0% contained as red flag warning issued

Turkey Farm Road Fire continues to burn throughout the night, covering more than 1,600 acres, Washington County, Utah, July 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Mark Bergmann, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A brush fire that started a mile west of Veyo on Monday afternoon has since spread to nearly 3,000 acres and has destroyed one home and two outbuilding, prompting FEMA to step in to assist.

View of West Veyo Fire from a Brookside residence as it burns throughout the night, Washington County, Utah, July 13, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Janie Hawley, St. George News

Meanwhile, the Turkey Farm Road fire also reported Monday burning west of the Veyo fire grew throughout the night and is now at more than 1,600 acres. Both blazes are 0% contained, and hot, dry winds are in the forecast throughout the area Tuesday.

Kevin Abel with Dixie National Forest told St. George News that the West Veyo Fire ignited shortly before 3 p.m. Monday and has burned through more than 2,900 acres of dry brush and grass on state, federal and private land. Incident command of the blaze transitioned to Abel early Tuesday morning, and he said that the total area burned was determined using information gleaned from an aerial map taken of the area at 9:30 a.m.

Abel also said that a survey of the area is currently underway and will provide a more detailed assessment of the damage by Tuesday afternoon.

While backburn efforts have been successful, and evacuations for Brookside and parts of Veyo have been lifted – as well as state Route 18 being reopened – the fire is still 0% contained.

Moreover, with red flag warnings in place, fire crews are going to have to work hard to contain the fire before the winds kick up in the afternoon, which can change the direction of a fire “in an instant,” Abel said.

“Crews can have control of a fire at one moment, and the next it all can change.”

Multiple local, state and federal agencies continue fighting the blaze, he said, and have worked throughout the night. Abel also said that numerous volunteers from several local fire departments have continued fighting the fire as well.

“We’ve got crazy support from these local volunteer departments who have stepped in to help and are working so hard to protect the structures and so on,” he said. “We really couldn’t do it without these local departments.”

Turkey Farm Road Fire

Turkey Farm Road Fire continues to burn throughout the night, covering more than 1,600 acres, Washington County, Utah, July 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Mark Bergmann, St. George News

As of 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, the Turkey Farm Road Fire has burned through 1,661 acres and is still 0% contained, Christian Venhuizen with the Bureau of Land Management told St. George News.

The fire was reported shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, and the cause is still under investigation.

Venhuizen said that one outbuilding has been destroyed in the fire, which is burning through an area covered in pinion pine, juniper, dry brush and grasses. Venhuizen also said that due to dry, hot windy conditions in the forecast for the area, fire crews are “working hard and are doing their best to protect the structures and property.”

Multiple state and local fire departments have responded and continue to fight the blaze.

FEMA steps in on West Veyo Fire 

On Monday evening, FEMA authorized the use of federal funds to help cover fire suppression costs for the Veyo West Fire after the agency approved the state’s request for assistance.

A press release sent out by FEMA’s Denver office Monday stated: “The fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.”  

At the time of the request, more than 800 homes were threatened, prompting authorities to begin evacuations in the area. 

The funding covers 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant under the disaster relief fund; however, the grant does not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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