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Dozens of homes, structures consumed by massive Wood Hollow Fire

Sad owners assess what to do next while others wait to learn of their property's fate

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  • county mom Monroe, UT
    June 27, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    Actually the biggest and costliest fires I have ever seen in my life time have been started by the United States Forest Service employees.
    The way fires are fought now, with men on the ground and on 4wheelers carrying what consists of 5 gallon buckets, airplanes and helicopters with a few hundred gallons of fire retardent and city firefighters with a pump truck designed to put out a house not hundreds or thousands of arces of fast hot walls of flames. It all seems so very foolish. Mostly the forest service just mops up after they let it all just burn.
    When I was a child the state fought fire with bulldozers and chains, heavy equipment that can move earth and trees in large swaths, creating firelines that were a few arces wide. Nothing to burn in them so the fire stopped. Yet the burn baby burn enviromental policies have stopped that and instead of the wages for a few dozer opperators, we pay for the wages for several thousand men on the ground with squirt guns!

  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    June 26, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    @justamacguy

    Actually, you can *barely* count on one hand the number of ammunition caused fires in the last 3 WEEKS.

    I do like your idea, though, of taxing other goods that contribute to starting wildfires. Instead of LDS Liberal's $5/box of ammo tax, I would recommend a 5% special sales tax on ammunition, matches, lighters, charcoal briquets, and an 8% special sales tax on fireworks -- we could call it the "Wildfire Prevention Excise Tax". I would also recommend adding $0.05 per gallon to the state gasoline tax (the "Wildfire Prevention Gas Tax"), as hot exhaust systems and exhaust sparks also contribute to a significant number of wildfires. These tax revenues could be put into a state trust fund dedicated to paying for fighting wildfires.

    And finally, people whose reckless or negligent actions cause wildfires should be required to pay $200/month or 50% of their after-tax income (whichever is less) for 10 years or until the liability is paid. Hopefully the threat of devastating fines to pay for fire damage caused by reckless behavior would lead people to think twice about said reckless behavior.

    It’s past time to be fanatical about wildfire prevention.

  • justamacguy Manti, UT
    June 26, 2012 10:48 a.m.

    There is a lot of ignorance here on the target shooting thing. When you are using exploding targets, that is a fire danger. Steel (armor piercing bullets) can create a spark. Tracer ammo (which the general public usually does not have access to) no brainer, don't use. Lead bullets, which are the vast majority of the ammunition out there does not spark. Get your facts straight.

  • oponion Salt Lake, UT
    June 26, 2012 10:05 a.m.

    Ironmania, if that was irony, I'm laughing. If it was serious, I'm sad. "Enumerated rites"? "there families"?, "give these boys a brake"??? Hysterical!

    On another note, Governor Herbert, how about "No fireworks, no target shooting", anywhere, for the month of July? We'd all sleep better. The park next to my house has been set on fire with fireworks twice since I lived here. I'm justifiably incredulous at the continued fascination with things that go "bang".

  • Dektol Powell, OH
    June 26, 2012 9:42 a.m.

    "By golly, you start the fire, you're going to be liable to pay for the fire," he said. "This is serious business. ... We're smarter than that in Utah." Gov.Gary Herbert

    Keep telling yourself that Governor. The facts and the charred results tell us you are not.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 26, 2012 9:04 a.m.

    Ironmania,
    The logic of your post is defined by your confusion between rites and rights. There is nothing illegal about driving, but if your drive recklessly and kill someone you must face the consequences.

  • Reader Sandy, UT
    June 26, 2012 8:33 a.m.

    "We're smarter than that in Utah!" Yeah right - that's why fireworks are legal in one of the driest states in the union. I am scared to death of what July will bring.

  • justamacguy Manti, UT
    June 26, 2012 1:27 a.m.

    Tax ammunition for starting fires? You have to be kidding me. You can probably count on one hand the number of ammunition caused fires in the last 3 decades, and most of them would probably be military training excursuses at Camp Williams using tracer ammunition. Something that normal civilians have very little access too. The majority of fires are causes by the mishandling of the good old match (i.e. campfire or charcoal barbeque) and cigarette butts. If you are going to tax and have an effect, then you would have to tax the most common causes of fire. $5 tax on every match stick, cigarette lighter, charcoal bag, cigarette. Oh, and lets not forget the fire started by a welding apparatus down south. Let's tax those too. Apparently the people who may have started the fire aren't the only ones with dumb ideas.

  • mcdugall Layton, UT
    June 25, 2012 6:22 p.m.

    ironmania: No where in the constitution does your grant you the right to discharge a firearm, you only have the right to own one.

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    The premise of people having a little fun and we should all chill out, I suspect you wouldn't agree with a drunk driver who was having a little fun and ruined private property or killed living creatures?

  • Corn Dog New York, NY
    June 25, 2012 5:38 p.m.

    People do indeed pay for starting fires.

    The Forest Service employee that started the Hayman fire, Colorado's largest, served five years in prison and owes almost $60 million is restitution, which she is paying off at $75 per month. Obviously she will never pay the debt off, but she won't be taking many fancy vacations, either.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    June 25, 2012 5:20 p.m.

    When the firefighters start backtracking the fire trail, they will find the origination. Instead of wasting a lot of taxpayers' money to do so, the people who set the fire - intentionally or unintentionally - should just own up to it, and be done with it. Nothing is gained to have the guilt sit on the conscience for this duration of time.

  • Ms Molli Bountiful, Utah
    June 25, 2012 5:08 p.m.

    Gov, when you say these people are going to pay, you must mean thru time in jail or community service? No one is stupid enough to think that you will be able to get anyone to write a check for the cost of putting these fires out! I'm all for community service though .. how about every single weekend of their life for oh about the next 10 years or so! And if they move, the community service requirement will travel with them.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    June 25, 2012 5:04 p.m.

    "Those who start fires" -

    1. The revenge fire: Do you remember hearing of the man in the Salt Lake City area who set fire to his rented apartment because his landlord evicted him for non-payment of rent?

    Do you recall the fire set, apparently by Josh Powell, at that point in the Susan Powell calamity?

    2. Political activism: Do you recall the woman in the Ogden area who was found guilty of setting fire to empty houses as part of her "protest" for some "social" cause? She was, amazingly, only given probation.

    3. Pyro-mania: Do you know that there are people who deliberately set fires to watch the blaze and for the odd notoriety or sense of power it might give them.

    Add to this the Burn Baby Burn mentality and other extreme anti-social mania.

    As well as the thoughtless and reckless individuals we seem to have a growing problem - augmented of course by "acts of God" which by definition cannot be helped or punished, but all the rest should, as the Guv. says, be prosecuted with the greatest vigor.

  • guswetrust Cebterville, Utah
    June 25, 2012 4:46 p.m.

    I think the cities along the mountains or grassy areas in Davis County could restrict ALL fireworks, even those their city usually puts on. We can do without and still have parades and wave flags. San Antonio had to do that last year on July 4. And they got along fine and still enjoyed the July 4th holiday.

    My heart and prayers go out to those that lost their homes and animals to the fires.

  • ironmania San Diego, CA
    June 25, 2012 4:38 p.m.

    There is nothing illegal about shooting. That is one of our enumerated rites from the bill of rites. Give these boys a brake -- they was just tryin to have a little fun on a hot summer day.

    Everyone needs to chill out and realize that this fire is actually creating jobs for hundreds of unemployed firefighters. Those firefighters need to feed there families to.

  • utahhomegrown Murrieta, CA
    June 25, 2012 4:34 p.m.

    Gov is RIGHT in every aspect. Those who chose to disobey the law should be punished and should pay.
    In addition to the cost of fighting the fires, innocent people have been miss-placed and perhaps lost property, livestock have suffered and died and who pays for that if there is any sort of re-payment for it if any??
    It's all over the news that there are regulations in place regarding the dry conditions however those who are responsible choose not to adhere to the regulations.
    The same thing as breaking a neighbors window playing or throwing a baseball and being irresponsible knowing that they shouldn't do it... they need to be responsible and pay for their actions. SIMPLE STUFF!! If you break the law there are consequences.

  • David B. Cedar City, UT
    June 25, 2012 4:15 p.m.

    I have to agree,you have to take personal responsibility for your actions as an adult and the same when your children do something stupid.Whether it be a campfire,target shootin/hunting or anything else.

  • emp1 Provo, UT
    June 25, 2012 4:07 p.m.

    It is definitely unrealistic to expect someone to pay millions of dollars for causing a fire. I do agree with a high fine and long term community service.
    How I view common sense and how you view common sense may be dependent on how we approach or react to the problem so asking a whole State to use common sense is also unrealistic and chaotic.

    Governor, stop reacting and start thinking about clear detail laws that will help protect the people. That is common sense.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    June 25, 2012 3:58 p.m.

    Don't confuse penalizing negligent behavior with legitimate accidents or acts of nature. We still fight fires, regardless of their origin. Fines for starting fires with fireworks, target shooting, untended camp fires and other acknowledged high-risk activities is sound policy. The public has a right to penalize those who act with reckless disregard for the common safety.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    June 25, 2012 3:56 p.m.

    Well the fires are still spreading and hard to contain. There has been a constant wind blowing in Sanpete county and the temperature is hot, hot and hot. There are lots of clouds in the sky but I think they are generated by the fire and don't have any water. The air is acrid and burns your throat. The fire is about 31 miles from us, but the air seems hotter than usual. Governor Herbert seemed a little uptight this morning and I don't blame him. People are loosing their homes and their livelihood. At least, so far, no one has been hurt in San Pete that we know of. The firefighters and other service personnel are doing an outstanding job. If the wind would die down, they would have this thing licked. I think though that the fire also generates wind. I know that many of us are praying for rain as well
    as the safety of the firefighters.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 25, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    A few years ago a guy who I commuted to work with told me that his kid was one of the boys who started a fire above Farmington UT. His boy was playing with fireworks and one of them got out of control and started the fire. He said 'they' were trying to get him to pay a (significant to him) portion of the fire fighting expenses.

    A co-worker once told me his boy threw a snow ball and hit an other boy in the eye and did eye damage. They sued and got $80,000 damages which he had to pay.

    I've thought how unfortunate to be a parent and then find out that your kid has done a significant amount of damage that you might have to pay for. Talk to your kids. Tell them to be careful and the consequences of various stupid acts.

  • williary Kearns, UT
    June 25, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    How dare the government be instusive and ask its citizens to use a little common sense and not go out for target practice in the middle of an extremely dry desert.

    Is there no end to their over reaching!

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    June 25, 2012 2:47 p.m.

    Wow LDS Lib - something we agree on!

  • RGinSG Saint George, UT
    June 25, 2012 2:29 p.m.

    Yes, I think the "residents" really DO "resent" those who caused these fires, thus I suppose they are "resents."

    Screaming that these people should pay the costs of fire suppression may make for political sound bites, but in reality knee jerk reactions aren't realistic. These folks can't pay in full, but they should pay with criminal records and stiff fines. The rest of us, like it or not, have to suck it up and share the costs. The only other alternative (maybe not entirely bad) would be to just let them burn while we watch our home owner policy premiums skyrocket.

    So, um... if lightning strikes are "act of God" should we send a bill to God for those fires?

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    June 25, 2012 2:11 p.m.

    I wish people would use common sense, we'd avoid most of these fires.

    Outside the stupidity of people we need better fire management strategies...we have created an environment waiting to explode due to all the fuel that's sitting out there. We need wildfires to burn up that fuel. It's time to rethink the 'put it out' fire arguement.

  • Penguin Inc. Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 25, 2012 2:10 p.m.

    This sounds to me like just another example of big government overreaching. Let the free market decide if people can't start fires or not. If the dry weeds burn, it's not the Governor's job to stop them. And if someone wants to shoot off their God given rights in the way of a gun, why, that's perfectly within their constitutional rights. Our land was built on freedom and liberty. These Salt Lake slick politicians can't tell us what to do. It's the nanny state. Leave it to the free market to decide.

  • The Sound of Freedom Layton, UT
    June 25, 2012 2:10 p.m.

    Wow, shakespeare's tool.

    Our society often uses financial means to enforce common sense. Think about traffic fines for speeding in school zones. Common sense would demand that you automatically slow down when children are present during school hours. Yet, we have the fools out there that just don't get it. We help them understand by making them pay a fine for going fast in school zones.

    If you had to pay 10-20% of your monthly income FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE as restitution for starting a fire because you lacked common sense, I think you'd get the message. Not only would you get the message, but you'd help spread the word.

    Finally, we do pay taxes to a government to provide certain services to us as a community. But, millions of dollars for fighting wild fires is simply not in the budget. I'm sure that we can arrange it, but fools like you would would complain about the higher taxes and debate having an account with millions just in case we have FIVE wild fires at a time.

    Please don't live up to your DN moniker. Don't be a fool.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    June 25, 2012 2:04 p.m.

    Perhaps a $5 per box user tax on ammo would help.

    It doesn't impede the right to bear, keep, or use guns, so it's Constitutional;
    just call it a $5 reminder NOT to be stupid with them -- and help cover the costs of that stupidity while not soaking the rest of us for it....

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 25, 2012 2:00 p.m.

    This is the dumbest idea I have ever heard. That is like saying that if you get stuck hiking and need search and rescue then you have to pay for it. It doesn't make sense. Obviously the target shooters aren't very bright, but honestly people that dumb aren't going to have 2 quarters to rub together let alone 7 million dollars. We pay taxes for reasons just like this. Accidents happen. Maybe taking their guns away would be in order, but the government will never get 7 million out of anybody.

  • ouisc Farmington, UT
    June 25, 2012 1:37 p.m.

    I hope the governor sees this through. We live in a desert state, which comes with it's own set of reponsibilities. It is not acceptable to be ignorant when we light fireworks, shoot our guns, light campfires, throw our cigarette butts out the window, etc.

    "I didn't know" and "Kids will be kids" is simply not acceptable when lives and millions of dollars are at stake. Utahns need to be smarter and more aware. And perhaps a few lawsuits against responsible parties will help educate those who haven't yet learned better.

  • shakespeare's fool Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 25, 2012 1:28 p.m.

    So here's the problem with the Governor's completely stupid comment.

    A) Individuals don't have the money to really repay the costs, so acting like they do is just dumb.

    B) The reason "We the people" created Government is to do the things that are difficult for us to do individually, ie, fight a fire.

    It's offensive every time government tries to charge us for doing a job we already paid them to do.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    June 25, 2012 1:23 p.m.

    Is there even a question, a remote thought that those who cause the fires through negligent or malicious behavior shouldn't lose everything they have to pay for their actions?

    I'm a hunter, camper, and outdoor enthusiast. 99% of those I see would never do anything to purposefully cause a fire -- nor would they do anything foolish that caused a fire like shooting into a tinderbox dry area or using gasoline bombs or aerosol cans as targets for the thrill. Both of those circumstances resulted in massive fires. They have the culprits. They should be handed the bill for 100% of the damage and if it takes everything they own to pay for it, so be it.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    June 25, 2012 1:15 p.m.

    Please do it, Governor, make them pay. There are accidents and there are acts of stupidity resulting in millions in damage.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    June 25, 2012 1:15 p.m.

    yes, common sense. Its not a 2nd ammendment issue. Its a common sense issue. Dry grass + hot metal/flame = fire.