Silver Creek WildfireLast summer’s brush fires were some of the worst that Utah (or any state) has ever seen.  A permanent canopy of smoke and haze filmed the sky throughout most of the season, seeming to forecast a rainstorm that, while hoped for, did not fulfill the false promise made by cloudlike billows.  The drought-like weather attracted national attention in an article on the worst fires in American history, in which “current fires in Utah” ranked #22.  (Presumably, they were all grouped together because when the article was written, new fires were cropping up almost constantly.)  Were it not for providence and tireless firefighters, much of the state would resemble a piece of charred toast.

For those who missed out on the action in Utah of summer 2012—or for the majority who couldn’t distinguish one conflagration from the next—here are some of the “highlights” of the season which will hopefully not be repeated this year:

1. May 22nd

Shortly after 5 p.m., reports were issued of a fire growing in Angel Heights in Hurricane.   The brush fire threatened several homes, obliged incident command at Diamond Ranch Academy; and obscured Route 59 with so much smoke that the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and the Utah Department of Transportation arranged an escort for drivers in the area.

2. May 31st

The “Clay Pits Fire” in Saratoga Springs started at around 8 p.m. to the west of Utah Lake.  Happily, the fire was contained after only four hours, although at least one home was temporarily in jeopardy.  Much of the 5-7 acres burned were back-fires started by firefighters.  An investigation was conducted based on the belief that the fire might have been man-made.

3. June 7th

It is suspected that this brush fire in Ogden stemmed from some human error.  “We heard someone yelling ‘fire’ and we looked up and sure enough we saw the flames going up a tree and this guy running from the fire,” claimed one witness to the inception of a 10-acre blaze.  Thanks to  relatively low temperatures, high humidity, and a slight breeze direction the fire away from homes, firefighters were able to prevent serious property damage; however, had it taken place later in the week (wherein high winds and high temperatures were expected), the Ogden community may not have been so lucky.

4. June 21st-23rd

These might be more aptly called the “Preview to Purgatory,” as a dozen brush fires broke out during this period.  Utah even made headlines in the British newspaper, The Guardian, when a session of target practice in the Salt Lake City area started a conflagration so formidable that 2,300 homes in 2 cities were evacuated.  (It is believed that a bullet sparking on a rock is what set the field alight.)

Brush fires that didn’t make the papers overseas include a “Dump Fire” on Eagle Mountain that incinerated 5,676 acres; a 1,600-acre fire in Leeds that closed down Exit 22 on I-15; an inferno that set 25-30 buildings ablaze and necessitated the evacuation of 200 homes in Mt. Pleasant; a blaze that burned at least 5,000 acres of Delta; a brush fire in Murray that menaced I-215; a conflagration in Bountiful begotten by an acetylene torch; and several others in Thanksgiving Point, West Valley, Draper, and Sandy.

5. July 2nd

A malfunctioning ATV spark arrestor caused the infamous Shingle Fire that burned 8,200 acres southeast of Cedar City (earning Utah a mention in the Huffington Post and aid from FEMA in the form of a Fire Management Assistant Grant to cover up to 75% of costs).   The rapid proliferation necessitated the closing of Highway 14, the evacuation of the Cedar Mountain area, and a loss of power.

In such a dry state as this is, fires can originate from a number of sources.  Barbecue grills, fireworks, cigarettes, and even more normally acceptable articles are enough to ignite a catastrophe if not used responsibly.  The injuries caused by fire can include both life-threatening burn injuries or brain injury from smoke inhalation.

Whether either you or a loved one has suffered from a burn injury, brain injury, or any other serious bodily harm as the result of a fire started recklessly or not prevented when it might have been, the party responsible is obligated to make restitution for whatever harm resulted.  When this restitution is hard-won, Utah personal injury lawyers Christensen & Hymas can offer both emotional support and invaluable legal guidance/service.  For more information, call (801) 506-0800.

Image courtesy of Tom Kelly

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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