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9/20/2010

Fire in Herriman Utah

Most people won't know this, unless you live in Utah, but yesterday at Camp Williams, the National Guard was practicing, with 30 to 50mph winds, live machine gun fire without tracers. One or more rounds set a fire and they thought they had it contained but 3 hours later, at 3:30p.m. the fire was out of control.

The smoke here was really thick and we faced the possibility of evacuation. I loaded up the SUV with our laptops, personal items and government documents and then some of my astronomy stuff that I didn't want to have to replace. We were told to have a bag with clothes, some valuables and anything else ready to go. Fortunately, the call or officer never came though we ended up being just two blocks from the evacuation zone. This morning I smell like I have sat all night at a campfire. I did go out last night from about 12:00 a.m. til 1:30a.m., watching the fire destroy some homes and burn with flames that would fan up to 30 to 50 feet in height. Ash fell at times like a soft snow so I did not stay outside too long, just out for a few minutes, talking to neighbors and then back in.



Below you can see what the fire looked like from a distance during the late afternoon on Sunday.



























Here the fire is cresting the ridge (Camp Williams, the National Guard practices there).




























Here is why there were so many concerns.






























Here you can see the extent of the flames as the 50mph gusts from the south fuel them up to 30ft or higher. It was at this point that the city council and other political figures toured the area and it was feared there would be from 50 to 100 homes lost. Fire came within 30 feet of many homes but the firefighters were able to save these homes, a huge credit to their professionalism and dedication.































This shows what I was able to view from my home of this fire.































I will miss work today as the police told me that we should stay in place so we don't clog the two main transportation routes into and out of Herriman. It was a very reflective process and one thing I did do last night was to film all of our possessions and to put it on the portable hard drive so I can prove to insurance companies what I have.

Over 10,000 acres have burned so far. No viewing for me. I never thought I would have to live through a fire. I've lived through a 7.0 earthquake during the 1988 Loma Prieta or World Series earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've been through a couple of Tropical Storms when I lived in Florida and a tornado when I lived in Illinois. I never thought that fire would impact me in such a way. I truly hope that each of your skies stay and are much clearer than mine.


Here are some pictures I took near the fire site:


The hill was a golden brown before the fire.



























We all thought this home would be gone but thanks to the firefighters who made a break, the fire curved around the home. The firefighters did an incredible job and the update is 3 homes lost, 1 structure lost. If you look carefully, you can see how close the fire came to this home.































Right in the middle in the back, is one of the homes that was lost. The wife/mother of the home found out in the parking lot of the local high school that is serving as the evacuation center when someone handed her a copy of today's Salt Lake Tribune and right there was a picture of her home burning. This home is the one my neighbor and I saw burning last night. The tall thing in the middle is the remains of their once beautiful chimney.






























Image of the hill showing the destruction.





























You can still see some hot spots, but the fire today is on the other side of the hill. Look carefully and you can see further evidence of how close this came to the homes. I'm sure some of these have smoke damage though.


2 comments:

  1. What a close shave for that house!
    I've had brushes with fire before, fortunately not near home but in Texas and Australia.
    It just goes to show that one can never be too careful when the landscape is so dry - fortunately it's a problem we don't have too much of in the UK (except sometimes in summer; lack of rain's often a problem here in summer [not every summer], believe it or not, and everything dries out).
    I'm glad to see you and your family are ok and that the fire's out.

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  2. Thanks Faith. The fire isn't out though as the winds shifted back to the south and are gusting up to 40mph and that has reignited the fires that are smoldering:

    It looks also like we will have some more burning and fires though:

    "What has occurred out there is a lot of the oak brush has burned through and has burned the underground fuel, so the top layer of fuel is pretreated to burn again, so we definitely have a potential of that stuff re-burning."

    Fun times here. The silver lining? At least it is happening during the waxing gibbous and full moon stages!

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