Wildfire forcing evacuations near Vernal

VERNAL, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) -- The Bureau of Land Management is fighting a wildfire that started northeast of Vernal Saturday afternoon.

BLM spokeswoman Kelsey Birchell said Saturday night that the fire began burning in a northeast direction and was threatening structures throughout the day. Evacuations were put in place at Taylor Mountain Road and Steinaker Reservoir. Vehicle restrictions have also been put in place on Highway 191. As of Saturday night, the fire was estimated at 3,569 acres with no containment. The fire was designated as a Type 3, with Type 1 being the most severe.

Eugene Swalberg of Utah State Parks, said between 150 and 250 people had to be evacuated from Steinaker State Park. The fire burned dangerously close to structures within the park, including a maintenance building, Swalberg said. But by Saturday evening the wind shifted and the fire began burning away from the park's boundaries. Swalberg said no injuries were reported and no structures were burned within the park.

BLM officials confirmed that there has been structure loss in the Taylor Mountain Road area, although a spokesperson did not confirm whether homes had been burned.

The BLM says there are 20 engines, one helicopter, three heavy air tankers and two single engine air tankers attacking the blaze. Six hand crews are en route to assist and will begin working on the blaze Sunday, Birchell said.

ABC 4 Utah will have more on this developing story as details become available.

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