DRAPER More than 60 homes were evacuated as a wildfire raged through Corner Canyon on Monday, coming within a few hundred yards of some houses along the benches.
After being evacuated from their homes, Ladawn Prue and her neighbors watched from Juan Diego High School as smoke from the 500-acre fire carried across the Salt Lake Valley.
"For a while it was scary," said Prue, who got her four cats out of her home and saved two strays from her neighborhood. "You could see the flames over the tops of the houses. Once it gets to the houses, it goes so quickly."
The fire burned close to houses at times, but no structures were damaged and residents were allowed to return home around 8 p.m., said Unified Fire Authority spokesman Ben Sharer.
The fire started around noon on private land near 13600 South and 2000 East. The exact cause of the fire was unknown Monday, but investigators were calling its origin suspicious.
All homes east of Highland Drive from Bear Ridge Cove to Pioneer Road were evacuated as strong winds moved the fire quickly along the mountainside.
"Better safe than sorry," said Liliana Yetman, who was evacuated from her home around 3 p.m. "We got the important things out just in case."
A half-dozen U.S. Forest Service
crews, 35 trucks and engines, four air tankers and a helicopter were able to get a handle on the blaze around 6:30 p.m., according to the Unified Fire Authority.
Firefighters were monitoring the weather as an evening storm moved into the valley. The fear was the storm could generate down-canyon winds, which might chase the fire back toward homes.
"There will be crews in the neighborhoods overnight, ready to protect the homes," Sharer said.
No serious injuries were reported Monday. A medical helicopter was able to rescue a stranded hiker in the area, UFA spokesman Jay Fearnley said. The hiker was uninjured.
On Glacier Summit Drive, George Torres and his neighbors raced to the hillside behind their homes with hoses, hoping to slow the flames if they ever made it that close.
A few hundred yards up the hill, the flames hit a fire road and died down.
"I had my car packed up, ready to go," Torres said. "We feel pretty lucky over here. It just goes to show it's a roll of the dice."
Thick plumes of smoke blanketed the mountain and people in Park City reported being able to see the smoke from the fire.
The smoke added to a thick layer of gunk already swamping the valley, further compromising air quality, which state officials were calling "moderate" on Monday.
"There is some concern and we have had some calls," said Bryce Bird, the planning branch manager with the Utah Division of Air Quality.
Bird added that smoke contains numerous chemical compounds that can trigger asthma and that can affect those who have compromised respiratory systems. Those include the elderly, children and people with heart conditions and lung problems.
Jordan School District officials took precautions early in the afternoon when the smoke began to spread throughout Sandy and Draper. Students were kept inside for recess and were allowed to wait indoors until buses arrived, said district spokeswoman Melinda Colton.
Contributing: Amy K. Stewart, Ben Winslow E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org