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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
A house burned down when firefighters fought a bushfire on Saturday, September 15, 2018 near Shaggy Mountain Road in Herriman.
HERRIMAN – The police arrested an adolescent suspected of triggering a Herriman bushfire that had two houses burned down, injured five emergency doctors, and evacuated neighborhoods on Saturday.
The teenager sparked the flame while playing with a smoke bomb, said Matthew McFarland, spokesman for the United Fire Authority. The source of the fire highlighted the dangerous conditions that currently prevail throughout the valley, he said.
"That was not a sparkler or something that spreads a huge amount of fire or sparks," said McFarland. "It was a smoke bomb that does not show any sparks, but somehow it gets hot, that alone in the grass was enough to get it going."
The evacuations were in place for most of Saturday afternoon, but residents were allowed to return to their Herriman homes in the early evening, as the fire stations had control of the bushfire.
The fire burned over 100 acres, destroyed two houses and a shed and also caused power outages for many residents. Five emergency workers were treated for injuries. A firefighter was taken to hospital for treatment, but later released. According to police officers, four United Nations police officers were treated for smoke poisoning.
McFarland explained which houses had burned down and pointed out that the houses that were burned were not very close to each other, showing the strong effects of the strong winds on the direction of the fire.
"It was easily 500 or 600 meters between them," he said, adding that the distance between damaged structures was due to the "unpredictable, wind-driven" flames that swept across the area in rapid fire, he added.
"One of them (a prefab house) was pretty close to the origin, the other was larger logging (at some distance)," he said. There was also minor damage to another neighboring house.
The fire was first reported around 13.30 clock. as a grass fire. Winds made the flames erupt quickly, McFarland said. The fire led to forced evictions in areas such as the High Country Estates Community.
Inspired by heavy winds and extremely dry conditions, the fire threatened several other houses and structures in the Herriman area.
"These strong winds are made impossible with air resources," he added.
"It came close to a dozen or more homes," McFarland said. But more than 100 firefighters fighting the fire have proven to be very effective in stopping the fire relatively quickly.
"With these (co-workers) we had people assigned to structural protection, so many of these homes were rescued by firefighters' efforts directly on their property, which were able to control the fire regulations," McFarland said. "They could not fight it completely, but they were able to protect the property from the movement."
• In Tooele County, Grantsville firefighters have spent multiple resources on a fire on I-80 near Milemarker 101 and in the hills above Lake Point. The Great Salt Lake State Park & Marina was closed and evacuated due to the approaching fire.
Utah Highway Patrol Troopers confirmed the closure of State Route 201 in the area and diverted drivers for several hours. The eastern lanes were closed late Saturday evening.
The fire passed on property of the largest mine of the state, but so far has threatened no structures.
"The fire is burning on our property, but it has not reached our cabin yet – the lodge is well-known for its high visible stack – it's part of the copper production process," said Kyle Bennett, Kennecott Utah Copper spokesman.
"We've evacuated the cabin as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our employees, and since the fire did not reach the hut, none of our facilities were affected by the fire."