Eight houses at the top of a ridge just south of Albion Middle School, 2755 Newcastle Drive, were threatened by a fast-moving grass fire Friday evening, but quick response by an interagency fire unit managed to stop the flames short of the houses.
Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Dave Lamberg, who helped coordinate the firefighting effort, said the blaze burned about eight acres before fire crews doused the flames. About 60 firefighters from Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, Midvale, Sandy, West Valley City and West Jordan responded.No one was evacuated from the threatened homes because most of the residents were using hoses to protect their property. "They were outside and in a position that they could quickly leave the area if that became necessary, so we didn't evacuate anyone," Lamberg said.
A privately owned backhoe was used to dig a firebreak just below the crest of the hill in an attempt to stop the southward movement of the fire. Lamberg said the fire managed to jump the firebreak in two spots but crews quickly brought the hot spotsunder control.
Lamberg said an offer from the U.S. Forest Service to provide helicopter support for the ground crews helped firefighters keep the blaze away from the homes.
"They had a helicopter on the pad that wasn't committed to anything, and they called and told us it was available," Lamberg said. The helicopter scooped buckets of water from a Salt Lake City water treatment plant near Wasatch Boulevard and made numerous water dumps on the fire.
"It just kind of exploded on us," Lamberg said. "Once it got into the scrub oak it took off just like a gasoline fire."
Lamberg said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but it is likely the fire was man-made. He said the time of day and the location of the fire makes it likely that children may have been responsible. With the 24th of July holiday just two days away, Lamberg said it is possible the blaze could have been started with fireworks.
The fire was reported at about 5:30 p.m. and was essentially out by 7:30 p.m. Fighting the fire was made difficult because fire hydrants were far from the site. No injuries were reported, Lamberg said.