Harmony Heights fire
© Scott Sommerdorf/Salt Lake TribuneNEW HARMONY FIRE Aerial crews dropped fire retardant onto the hillside below fires threatening this home in Harmony Heights
Blaze grows - Winds have swelled the Mill Flat Fire to 10,000 acres.

New Harmony -- Members of the Washington County Search and Rescue team went door-to-door Sunday morning to alert residents here of a voluntary evacuation in the face of a wildfire bearing down on the town that already has consumed at least three homes.

The 10,000-acre Mill Flat Fire is burning actively in areas west and north of the town. Residents in the west have been asked to evacuate; others have been put on a one-hour notice for future evacuations.

Sheriff Kirk Smith said although the evacuations remain voluntary for now, residents are being given a warning: firefighters have the best chance at protecting their property if they leave now. Leaving as the fire approaches allows teams to move in resources to fend off the flames, but waiting until the last minute to evacuate can cause a bottleneck, he said.

One of the homes the fire already has destroyed was on the market for $1 million, according to Smith.

The winds that swelled the Mill Flat Fire on Saturday to 10,000 acres picked up again at 10 a.m. Sunday and are expected to continue through the late afternoon with gusts of up to 25 mph.

"This fire has moved very rapidly into New Harmony Town," said Bevan Killpack, Pine Valley District Ranger, in a news release.

On Sunday, firefighters will focus on defending the outskirts of town and properties. Hot, dry weather in addition to the winds could mean extreme fire behavior.

"Today's challenge...is to provide structure protection in the face of red flag warnings," said Randy Turrill, Type III Incident Commander. "Public and firefighter safety is our top priority."

A Type I Incident Management Team is being brought in to manage and coordinate fire-fighting efforts. There are 140 firefighters, 30 fire engines, two large helicopters, one smaller helicopter, three single-engine air tankers and two large air tankers on hand to fight the wildfire.

Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to tour the burned areas and check on some of the damage caused by the fire later this afternoon.

Heavy smoke with ash fall from the Mill Flat Fire has dispersed throughout southwestern Utah.