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 9:00 p.m. MDT

If the wind hadn't shifted, Lovellette said he and his cat Rambo would have likely left. However, he believed his home was completely out of danger late Friday. The closest the fire got to his house Thursday night, he said, was within 400 to 600 yards.

Volunteers step up

Local businesses have been donating food and water to firefighters and evacuated residents, including the Home Depot, Smith’s, Walmart and Del Taco. The Red Cross also provided food and said it would provide meals on Saturday for those who have been evacuated.

Volunteers like Amy Reda were also helping residents leave their homes Friday. Reda can see the fire from her home, but it was not in danger of burning. She and her daughters decided to volunteer to take pets of displaced residents to local shelters.

"I would want someone to help us if they could," she said.

Because pets were turned away from temporary evacuation shelters at area high schools, some owners dropped them at an emergency shelter provided by See Spot Eat in American Fork. The nonprofit shelter, 94 S. 700 East, was overflowing with animal refugees from the Dump Fire, with about 40 dogs and 15 cats arriving in a rush on Friday.

Jessica Graves, director of fundraising for the organization, described the scene as hectic.

“We’re overfull but we still have more on the way,” she said, putting out the plea for more kennels, dog runs and pet food. The organization, which helps keep residents in touch with their animals if they have gone through hard times such as housing displacement, is also working with the Utah Animal Rescue Coalition to get additional supplies. A local rancher from Saratoga Springs was serving as a contact for them to take in large animals.

'Common sense'

Herbert said the state would be offering the communities whatever support they need, noting that the state's role in these situations is collaboration and facilitation. He said all entities were working well together.

"The state's role is really to help coordinate the efforts by local communities," Herbert said. "We're making sure we're doing what's necessary to back them up."

A Fire Management Assistance Grant was approved Friday to help with the cost of fighting the fire. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover 75 percent of the firefighting costs.

The Dump Fire was accidentally started Thursday by target shooters. No criminal charges will likely be filed against the shooters, but civil lawsuits are a possibility, said Curry.

There have been 20 wildfires started this year by target shooters, according to officials. Herbert called it a "foolish activity" to shoot into cheatgrass under the current conditions.

When asked whether he would consider a statewide ban on target shooting under certain conditions, Herbert said one of the biggest problems facing the state was "a lack of common sense" by some residents.

Herbert said, however, that he had contacted city and county leaders to ask them to look at their local fireworks ordinances and consider a ban on fireworks while the fire danger is so high.

"It should be a bottom-up approach rather than a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach," he commented.

Evacuated residents were encouraged to go to Westlake High School, 99 N. Thunder Blvd. Red Cross officials, however, did not expect a lot of people to stay there overnight.

“We don’t know how many people are going to go to relatives. Utah is a very gracious state,” said Red Cross spokesman Scott Vest.

Grabbing valuables

Liz Mercado said she left her house to run an errand about 10 a.m.

"The sky was all orange and black," she said.

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