Grateful residents of Saratoga Springs return home as fire continues to burn

Published: Saturday, June 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"They just said, 'This is a mandatory evacuation. You have a few minutes to get your stuff and get out.' We just got stuff to sleep overnight and headed out," she said.

Wendel, her husband and their five boys stayed with relatives overnight.

"You could see flames, but our house is kind of at the bottom of the subdivision," Wendel said. "There was a little bit of stress with the explosion plant, that was a little stressful, but I felt our house would be OK."

Fire officials said about 3 p.m. is traditionally when fire conditions can be the worst. As predicted, the wind kicked up between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. But Curry said the fire lines built that day held. They avoided what's known in the fire community as a "Swiss cheese model" — a worst case scenario where the temperature, wind, humidity and dry fuels all line up to figuratively form a giant hole for those fighting the fire to fall into.

A Red Flag warning has been issued for the area through Sunday, according to fire officials, meaning high winds and high temperatures are predicted. Meteorologists have predicted temperatures may hit 100 degrees again Sunday in some areas along the Wasatch Front.

Osborn said fire crews also battled Saturday to keep the Dump Fire from spreading to the nearby Israel Canyon area, a region that has not had a wildfire in 100 years, she said.

"There's a lot of natural resources there," Osborn said.

The Dump Fire was started about 11:30 a.m. Thursday by a target shooter. The fire was less than 800 acres Friday morning, but exhibited "explosive behavior" because of strong winds Friday and it more than quadrupled in size.

About 300 personnel battled the blaze Saturday — including 10 hand crews, consisting of about 20 firefighters per crew, working the  containment lines. Three helicopters, 17 engines and four water-feeders, which supply water to the engines and wet the roads down, were assisting in the efforts.

The Dump Fire received its name because it started near the Saratoga Springs city landfill.

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E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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