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Utah-New Wildfire in centervile

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  • Utah-New Wildfire in centervile

    Centerville blaze flares anew

    No homes are threatened as fire ignites trees
    By Derek Jensen
    Deseret Morning News

    The Centerville fire crept into heavy timber late Wednesday afternoon, shooting flames 80 feet into the air and a plume of smoke billowing into the blue skies over Davis County.

    A tanker plane drops fire retardant on the Centerville fire. The blaze was 20 percent contained at 215 acres until a flare-up late Wednesday afternoon that hampered firefighters' efforts to contain the blaze.

    Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
    The flare-up hampered firefighters' efforts to contain the blaze but still did not threaten any homes or force any evacuations, Wasatch Cache National Forest fire information officer Greg Underwood said. The blaze was started Tuesday by three teenagers playing with smoke bombs. Charges could be filed against the trio sometime next week, Centerville Police Chief Neal Worsley said.
    The fire was 20 percent contained at 215 acres until Wednesday's 5 p.m. flare-up.
    "The skies were basically clear; there wasn't much smoke in the air at all," Underwood said. "We were thinking we're close . . . but Mother Nature had other plans."
    The spectacular smoke display started after some embers worked their way across Ricks Creek into the 60- to 80-foot tall fir trees on the northwest facing slope of Ford Canyon. Several dead trees in the area turned into prime fuel for the fire.
    "You've got all these dry match sticks that take off," Underwood said.
    More air tankers were diverted to the fire, and Underwood said it was likely that as many as five planes could be battling the blaze by the end of the day. Two helicopters, with another on the way, joined the 130 ground crews battling the blaze. Because of the steep, rugged terrain, firefighters weren't expected to work past nightfall, Underwood said.
    As crews continued to battle Davis County's most active wildfire, residents to the north in Fruit Heights were breathing a collective sigh of relief that a 15-acre fire, which started Tuesday night and forced the evacuation of several homes, did not damage any buildings.
    "All it would have had to have done is just drop down that hill," Davis County Animal Services Director DeAnne Hess said as she looked over a metal barn at the bottom of an embankment that was only about 60 feet from the fire. "It was a little too close for comfort."

    Two goats were moved from the barn into the main animal services building after Hess arrived Tuesday night and saw 5- to 6-foot flames coming toward her facility.
    "It was headed right for us," she said.
    Others living in the area loaded cars with valuables and waited to see if the flames would get any closer.
    "We were concerned but not freaking out," said Susan Darger, whose street was ordered evacuated as the fire spread. The Dargers opted to stay and watch the advancing flames from their deck, with their car loaded and ready for a quick escape.
    "We were told that we had five minutes to leave, but everyone pretty much ignored it," said resident Curt Larson. "I packed up some of my most valuable things but wasn't going to leave until I knew I had to."
    Instead of packing up and traveling to a nearby command center, several other residents, including Larson, began taking pre-emptive measures to secure their property. Larson turned on his sprinklers while others provided firefighters with access points to get equipment closer to the blaze. Others sprayed down their roofs while a few actually got out shovels and worked with firefighters to slow down the fire.
    Jim Morgan was at his home about 9 p.m. when his wife suggested the area smelled like fire.
    "I turned around and you could see a big cloud of smoke and orange glow," Morgan said.
    After turning his sprinklers on to wet down his house, Morgan traversed through the brush behind his house with a shovel to try to prevent the flames from spreading.
    "When I got up there the flames were way too big for anything I could do with a shovel," he said.
    Morgan estimated the flames were 20 feet tall and moving toward his house, fed by winds from the east.
    Residents who had left their homes were allowed back by about midnight after firefighters extinguished the threatening blaze.
    Many residents in the area credited the fast work of firefighters with saving their homes.
    Meanwhile, authorities were trying to determine the cause of the fire, which appears to have started in an abandoned uranium processing pit. Witnesses reported seeing a minivan leaving the area with five or six juveniles inside, Davis County Sheriff's Capt. Kenny Payne said. The older model van had a blue zigzag stripe. Anyone with information on the vehicle or cause of the fire is asked to call the Davis County Sheriff's Office at 451-4151.

    Video News report:

    Last edited by UTFFEMT; 07-31-2003, 01:23 PM.
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