Wednesday , September 06, 2017 - 4:30 AM
Layton Fire Marshall Doug Bitton used one word Tuesday to describe the Uintah fire, but he only needed one: Horrific.
The fire started shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday “just below the U” on the mountain, Bitton said. By 2:30 p.m., when Bitton met with the press for an update, it had consumed 1,200 acres, destroyed six homes, closed two busy highways and forced hundreds of people to evacuate homes and schools.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which quickly authorized the use of government funds to fight the fire, estimated it threatened 300 homes, “various infrastructure, utilities, and a watershed in the area.”
But through Tuesday afternoon, despite its ferocity, no one died in the fire — a testament to the skill of firefighters, the decisiveness of emergency management officials, and the cooperation of those ordered to evacuate.
Don’t let down your guard. Because this fire continues to threaten lives and property.
Officials lifted the evacuation for South Weber about the same time as Bitton’s news conference, but he pointed out things could easily change. Be ready to evacuate overnight, Bitton warned.
We’re at the point where following simple instructions could make the difference between life and death.
Stay away from the fire scene. Don’t try to visit your property. And don’t attempt to check on relatives; that could impede firefighters, said Weber Fire District Chief Brandon Thueson.
This isn’t a disaster unfolding on cable television. It’s here. You can see the flames, hear the Blackhawk helicopters dumping water on the mountain and breathe the smoke.
It affects people we know — friends, neighbors and relatives. To help them, Uintah City Fire Chief Bill Pope said volunteers should sign up by visiting the American Red Cross website, www.redcross.org/volunteer. You can also make monetary donations to the Red Cross, Pope said.
This is a horrific fire, as Bitton said. But firefighters will prevail.
Until they do, the key is surviving it.
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