The Latest: Winds may tip the balance in fighting Utah fire

SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the West United States (all times local):

7 p.m.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says the next few days are critical as firefighters try to keep a raging wildfire away from hundreds of homes.

Herbert spoke Friday evening after meeting with fire officials at the fairgrounds in Spanish Fork.

The governor says if the winds stay down, crews will have a good chance at staying on top of the blaze.

Hundreds of residences have been evacuated in Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge and Covered Bridge.

More than 430 people are working on the fire, which has grown to more than 68,000 acres (275 square meters).

Herbert says that figure will likely grow to 1,000 as more aircraft and ground crews get in place.

The lightning-caused fire is only 2 percent contained. It has been burning since Sept. 6.

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12:40 p.m.

Officials in southwest Montana say three houses burned in a wildfire near a small community along the Missouri River.

Gallatin County emergency officials said Thursday two “secondary residences” and seven outbuildings also were lost Monday afternoon outside Clarkston, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Bozeman.

The fire burned nearly 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) of land and was 33 percent contained. Crews were working Friday to increase containment and put out hot spots.

About 160 people are assigned to the fire, which burned in grass and juniper among about 40 buildings.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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10:45 a.m.

A fast-moving Utah wildfire fanned by high-winds has more than doubled in size as it burns through dry terrain and forces evacuations of hundreds of homes.

The U.S. Forest Service said Friday that the blaze had grown to 84 square miles (217 square kilometers) from 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) Thursday night.

Sparked by lightning last week, the fire is only 2 percent contained.

People were told to leave three communities near the city of Spanish Fork on Thursday after the fire exploded as winds in the area picked up.

The evacuated areas are the communities of Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge and Covered Bridge.

The fire is threatening to converge with a second fire.

No damage to homes has been reported.

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9 a.m.

A fast-growing wildfire roaring through dry terrain in Utah is forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

People were told to leave three communities near Spanish Fork on Thursday after the lightning-sparked blaze exploded in size to 31 square miles (80 square kilometers). It’s threatening to converge with a second fire.

Sparked by lightning in a remote, forested area on Sept. 6, the so-called Pole Creek fire raged out of control as high winds kicked up Thursday.

It’s also forced road closures on U.S. Highway 89 and U.S. Highway 6, which has since reopened.

No housing damage has been reported. The fire is 2 percent contained.

The evacuated areas are Woodland Hills, Elk Ridge and Covered Bridge.

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