The only thing scarier than standing on a burning mountain is standing on it while deer hunters aim rifles at you, the Utah County Sheriff said Wednesday.
"Most of the hunters in Hobble Creek Canyon are wearing orange, but the firefighters are not," Sheriff Dave Bateman said Wednesday. "Firefighters in thebrush could easily be mistaken for a deer."Officials say the fire started when sparks from a damaged power line ignited the brush.
Fire crews, with some help from Mother Nature, have worked since Tuesday afternoon to contain a blaze that has consumed 150 acres of grass and oak brush.
"Autumn's colder nights, lower day temperatures and dew reduce the time the fire can burn," Loyal Clark, Uinta National Forest spokeswoman, said. "This would have been much worse if it happened this summer."
Larry Call, Uinta National Forest planner, said crews expected to have the fire extinguished by Saturday.
"There are indications the power line was shot by someone trying to hit the insulator nearby," Bateman said. "Generally, those lines don't break unless there is some outside force.
"Once some guys get a gun in their hands, they get bored and shoot at anything - road signs, fence posts."
Thursday it was confirmed that the line was shot.
One hundred firefighters have been brought in to control the fire, but Bateman said hunters have not stayed clear of the area.
"They are out there, running around, interrupting the fire-fighting efforts. They are tying up my personnel with traffic control."
Worse than that, Bateman said, several hunters have stood at the side of the road and watched firefighters through the scopes of rifles for a magnified view of the action.
"I'm sure it's not deliberate; they're not trying to endanger anyone. But the mere fact they are pointing loaded firearms is frightening. We've had people killed when hunters looked at someone through their scopes and the firearms accidentally discharged.
"We always breathe a sigh of relief when the deer season is over."