Quail Fire burns in hills above Alpine, evacuations ordered

Published: Tuesday, July 3 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

No homes or structures were in danger as of 7 p.m. "The wind is blowing the fire away from any homes and any structures and burning up towards the mountain," she said. "We have cliff faces, granite rock that is causing a natural barrier to the fire."

Alpine resident Doug Parrish said he noticed about 2:30 p.m. that the light coming into his house turned yellow. He looked outside and saw smoke.

“I called to my wife and I said, 'I think we're going to have to get out of the house.' About that time, we realized that the wind was coming our direction, and we weren't really sure if it was going to take the house or not. “

Parrish said the recent fires prompted him to think about what he'd have to do in the event of an evacuation. “We had a couple of grab-and-go kits and we threw our 72-hour backpacks in the car and kits that had some of our precious things in it. And so we drove away and sat over here on a hill and watched," he said.

"Every time the fire would advance, we were just thinking, 'Please wind, blow further east.' If it would have been another 5 degrees further to the west, I think we would have lost the house.”

He was philosophical about realizing what things are most important.

“What goes through my mind is that there are irreplaceable things and there are valuable things. The irreplaceable things are our lives and treasures, everything else fire insurance policy will cover, I suppose," he said. "But it's heart-wrenching to sit there and watch the flames march ever-closer, wondering if it's going to go or not.”

Ryan Johnson said he was coming home from an activity with his family when he saw the chaos from the fires. He was retrieving photos, dogs and other items from his parents' house when officers approached.

"The police came, frantically evacuating everyone, knocking on the doors," he said, but added there was one scenario that concerned him.

"I saw one cop shoot at a neighbor's dog (that had been barking loudly). It was a Labradoodle. The neighbor was pretty upset about that. I think some of the police were overreacting," Johnson said. "That shot heightened everybody's tension."

Ironically, Johnson said he had discussed preparing his parents' house in case of a fire just hours earlier.

"Just last night, my mom said, 'Hey, can you and your brother help us clear out some of the brush and trees for fire danger?'"

The Anderson family came to Utah from Colorado Springs to get away from wildfires there — only to be evacuated because of a wildfire here. The family was camping in American Fork Canyon Tuesday when they were told they had to leave.

"It was a little surprising. We just got here," said Mary Anderson.

The family had to leave so quickly that they were forced to leave their dog and other belongings behind in their RV. Later, however, they were allowed to return, gather the rest of their things, hitch up their trailer and retrieve their dog.

 "We just didn't expect it," she said.

Ron Zitting, of Salt Lake City, was also glad he was allowed to quickly return to the canyon and gather up his stuff.

"I figured if I couldn't get up her tonight, I'll try again tomorrow. The truck and trailer are insured. As long as everybody is safe."

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who visited many of the major fires in Utah this past week, lives on the west side of Alpine and was home when the fire broke out.

“It’s a big one and it’s getting worse,” he said. “There aren’t as many homes in danger as in Sanpete County or down in Saratoga Springs, so there hasn’t been what’s called an FMAG issued yet, which would give some federal funding.

“A lot of what is burning right now is on Forest Service land, and we need federal assets to try to put a hamper on it.”

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