PLEASANT VIEW, Weber County — A fast-moving brush fire damaged two homes — one severely — as well as three other structures Friday evening.
The fire, which ignited around 4:50 p.m. in a field near 1100 West and 4300 North in Pleasant View, caused the evacuation of 25 homes, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Doug Bitton.
The fire had burned 89 acres and was reported at 40 percent containment almost five hours later, but was moving away from homes and other structures, he said. Evacuations were lifted shortly after 9 p.m.
Six retardant drops were conducted to fight the fire.
The flames severely damaged the attic of one home and burned the fences and siding around another, Bitton said. The cost of damage to the homes and three outbuildings was not available Friday.
Among the evacuees returning to the neighborhood Friday night were Sheryl and Eric Stakebake and their three teenagers. Members of the family were headed home to meet for dinner when they saw the fire start. With just one road in or out of the neighborhood, the couple realized even before the order came that an evacuation was imminent.
"There was a lot of smoke, the flames were huge," Eric Stakebake said as his family reunited at a nearby church. "By the time we were coming out, (flames) were across the road into some of our neighbor's yards."
"It burned right up to the door on some of them," Sheryl Stakebake added.
Luckily, the family was packed and ready for a trip to Bear Lake in the morning, just needing to grab the final items for their suitcases. Each of the teenagers hopped into their own vehicles, while their parents drove out in a truck and trailer that was already loaded with the family's ATVs, kayaks and camping gear.
The Stakebakes were quick to voice appreciation for the fast-acting fire crews, unconcerned by the fire retardant that caked their vehicles.
Initially, the blaze spread to the southeast at a rapid pace because of thick vegetation in the area. Fire authorities dubbed the blaze the Pole Patch Fire.
"With that (thick) grass, there's going to be a lot of smoke," Bitton said.
The Northview Fire District called in several agencies to help, including fire crews from the BLM. Aircraft dropped fire retardant to slow down the blaze. In all, about 70 firefighters were on scene.
No injuries to firefighters or residents were reported.
The cause of the fire was unknown Friday and remained under investigation. Employees at gravel company first spotted the flames in an open field between the gravel pit and neighborhood, calling 911 and trying unsuccessfully to contain it, Bitton said.
Winds were calm Friday evening, which was a benefit to firefighters. Bitton warned evacuated residents and onlookers to stay away from the area. He said firefighters' main goal was to prevent any injuries and to contain the fire as quickly as possible.
"Please just stay away and watch the fire from the lower parts of the valley," Bitton advised.
A large swath of burned terrain could be seen from an aerial view and at the bottom of the hillside. Bitton urged members of the public who are curious about the fire to keep their distance for now as crews remained on scene through the night. Only residents were being allowed into the neighborhood
"Don't go in to look and see because you will be turned away by the police presence there," Bitton said.
Shane Ward, a spokesman for the Division of Natural Resources, noted Friday that a drone was spotted in the area of the fire. While the remote-controlled craft didn't come close enough to hamper firefighting, it was concerning, he said.
"That's been a repeating here in Utah," Ward said. "It definitely puts our aviators in the sky at risk and our firefighters on the ground as well, so please keep those out of the area."
Bitton also noted that firefighters will be on site to fight hot spots through the night, so residents do not need to call 911 if they see small amounts of flames.
The Red Cross was called out to assist any affected residents.