Some evacuated residents allowed to return home as crews contain 50% of wildfire

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15 2013 8:50 a.m. MDT

As crews were battling the devastating wildfire Thursday, the frustration of anxious and weary residents who had been out of their homes since Tuesday continued to grow.

"It's been really hard," said Rob Fairbanks, who lives in the Rockport Estates community with his wife. "We've been in the same work clothes since I don't know when."

Fire officials and Summit County sheriff's deputies acknowledged Thursday that emotions among displaced residents were high and they said they understand being evacuated is difficult.

Doing their best to help residents, the Summit County Sheriff's Office escorted a continuous stream of owners back to their homes throughout the day to get necessities. Sgt. Ron Bridge said the office had been flooded with calls.

Originally, Bridge announced the sheriff's office would escort people back into their homes on a case-by-case basis only for those who needed items "necessary to sustain life," such as medication, or pets that needed to be rescued. Extra clothing or laptops for people who work from home who need their electronics to "sustain their livelihood" won't be allowed, he said.

"We have been inundated with calls with people begging and pleading to get into their house to get personal items they feel they need, and we're just not willing to put our deputies at risk or put civilians at risk. It's just not worth the price," he said.

"We're not going to stand by and use our resources for people to pack a bag, to retrieve additional clothes, to grab their computer because it has their work on it. That's not what we're there for," Bridge said.

Yet many still convinced deputies to escort them home for quick visits. On Thursday afternoon, Rutter said officials agreed to escort a young woman back to her house to retrieve her wedding dress.

"Had a request I've never had before. A young lady is getting married Saturday. We were able to get into her structure, it's still there, to recover her wedding dress. So, that was kind of emotional. So we're doing what we can," he said.

Other requests, however, were for items such as insulin and other medication.

The sheriff's office said it would resume escorting residents in Rockport Estates and Ranches to their homes for essentials on Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As many tried to get back into their homes, community members also rallied for those who were left with nothing.

The North Summit Junior Athletic League was originally going to hold a fundraiser Thursday night to raise money for new uniforms and equipment. Instead, league vice president Sam Rex said the decision was made to have a barbecue and movie night on the football field at North Summit High School in Coalville, and donate all of the proceeds to the family of one of the leagues' 12-year-old players.

"We have a football player named Cayman Rasmussen who lost his home, lost everything he had. So as a league, we decided we'd put all this money toward his family tonight," he said. "IT Wasn't a question at all. We have enough money in our bank account that we decided that 100 percent of the proceeds tonight are going to the family.

"We said, 'You know what? There's more important things this money needs to go to,'" Rex said.

The Rasmussens' house was believed to have been the first one lost on Tuesday. Cayman lives with his mother, Crissy, father Jaron and 8-year-old sister Chole.

"This community has just been an awesome place and the people here are just out of this world. Can't say enough good things about them," said Cayman's mother, Crissy Rasmussen.

Rasmussen said she's mostly doing OK by keeping busy, but "every time someone asks it just brings the emotions all back."

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