Nearly 9,000 residents evacuate neighborhoods near Saratoga Springs fire

'Dump Fire' quadrupled in size Friday to over 4,100 acres

Published: Friday, June 22 2012 9:37 p.m. MDT

Judd said he worked a night shift, checked the fire from a hillside when he returned home and thought it looked far enough away. But knowing about the wind in the area, he knew things could change quickly.

"The wind can pick up easily and it can shift," he said. "That's what it did."

"It's just crazy. I'm just trying to get pictures and stuff you can't replace," said April, one of the residents who was forced to evacuated her house. "Everybody's really nervous."

Many residents said they grabbed pictures and computers and similar items that were not replaceable. One resident grabbed an Olympic flag in addition to her pictures.

Saratoga Springs resident Noelle Pikus-Pace, who finished fourth in skeleton in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, was also forced to leave her home.

"It's just crazy to see everyone packing up and leaving," she said. "The wind is just so strong out here."

But Pace said it was also "neat" to see the community come together to help everyone evacuate their homes safely.

Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said deputies escorted residents who were cut off from their homes back into the closed areas Friday to quickly grab pets and needed medications.

There were also reports that one firefighter suffered what Curry called a "very minor burn injury" while fighting the wildfire.

The dynamics of the fire situation changed several times throughout the day as officials scrambled to keep up with the latest information to plan for evacuations.

"We're just trying to get information. We've got places to stay tonight, but we just want some information so we can go back," said a frustrated Brian Bainter who was evacuated.

Bainter said his family grabbed a few items from their home before being forced to leave.

"I didn't think (the fire) would really get to us, so we packed some clothes to get us by for a couple of days. Other than that, a couple of pictures, a laptop," he said.

In addition to knocking on doors to alert residents to the evacuation order, police and fire officials used social media such as Twitter and Facebook to get the word out to residents.

"Mandatory evacuations for the entire subdivision of Saratoga Hills and adjacent subdivisions! Please evacuate to Westlake High school as soon as possible. Please do so in a calm and orderly manner," the Saratoga Springs Police Department said in a tweet about 10:45 a.m.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he has spoken with many residents concerned about losing their homes, but encouraged people to follow evacuation orders for their own safety.

"We've had a couple people reluctant to leave. That seems silly to me," the congressman said.

Not everyone evacuated, however.

Barry Lovellette, 53, said he closed his doors and pulled his shades to make it look like his house was empty, but he opted to stay.

Lovellette, who said he spent 22 years in the military and is a self-proclaimed "weather nut" with his own weather station on his roof, said he was up all night watching the fire.

"I was a little concerned because the wind was blowing west to east, which means the flames may come down the hill," he said. "I did pack my car, I did pack a lot of personal important items. The car is still packed."

But Friday morning, Lovellette said the wind shifted.

"The winds this morning were blowing from the south, they weren't going to come further down the hill," he said. "I didn't feel the need to race out of the area because the local police said it was necessary."

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