Police: Fireworks likely cause of Utah wildfire; home evacuations lifted
Carter Williams, KSL.com
This weather-related story is brought to you by East Idaho Credit Union. At East Idaho Credit Union, we believe in building a better life for our members, our communities and the great state of Idaho. Explore our solutions and start building your better life today at East Idaho Credit Union.
CENTERVILLE, Utah (KSL.com) — Fireworks appear to be the likely cause for a fire in the foothills above Parrish Lane and 100 South in Centerville, Utah late Sunday night, police said Monday.
It led to 89 home evacuations in the area overnight; however, those were lifted just before 6 a.m. as the fire moves away from homes. Some of the streets in the area remain closed due to firefighting activity, according to Centerville police. They added that a pair of planned holiday festivities on Monday — the Centerville City 4th of July Parade and Freedom Run — are canceled because of the fire.
“Fire suppression efforts will continue to impact the parade and 5K run routes into the morning. Additionally, the public safety resources needed to ensure (the) safety of the event are not available,” police wrote on social media.
The Deuel Creek Fire is estimated at 100 acres, and is 0% contained, according to Utah Fire Info, which is run by state and federal firefighting agencies. Local, state and federal firefighters all helped fight the fire overnight. A Type 3 wildland firefighting team is assigned to the fire Monday, meaning that additional firefighting resources are expected “throughout the day.”
Centerville Police Lt. Allen Ackerson told KSL-TV that people may not be able to see a lot of smoke if they drive near the fire, but the crews are nowhere near done making sure the fire is completely out. Officials are asking people to avoid the area as firefighters try to contain the blaze.
“The fire is far from being out,” he said, standing several blocks west of the fire. “It’s still burning, you just can’t see it from the side we’re at right now.”
Officials caution that residents may be evacuated again and should be ready to vacate “at a moment’s notice” just in case there is a shift in the fire pattern.
The fire broke out just before midnight by the Deuel Creek Trail, which Ackerson describes as one of the city’s “more popular trails” in the foothills. Scores of people posted photos and videos of the fire as it moved its way up the foothills.
Flames were fanned by winds amid very dry conditions due to the ongoing severe drought in the area. Eight different agencies were assigned to the fire overnight, which allowed for the evacuations to be lifted within hours.
“One of the reasons they were able to knock down the fire so fast is they were able to get so many assets on scene, all the firefighters up on the mountains, so fast,” Ackerson said.
Though fireworks are suspected, the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation. Ackerson said that “natural causes” have been ruled out in the investigation, meaning that it is a human-caused fire.
One car was on the road where the fire is believed to have started, and a sergeant got the license plate number before the car left the scene, police said Monday.
Authorities suspect fireworks because it is legal to light fireworks at times from Saturday through Tuesday in Utah in celebration of the July 4 holiday. However, Centerville designates areas east of 400 East at Parrish Lane and east of 600 East at 100 South as no-firework zones because of the location’s proximity to the wildland foothills.
Fire danger remains quite high today, and Red Flag Warnings remain in effect for much of Utah. Though it is Independence Day, we urge you to avoid activities that may cause sparks! Any fires that develop will spread quickly! #utwx pic.twitter.com/nZOkFEZi2M
— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) July 4, 2022
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning earlier in the day, which warns that hot temperatures, windy conditions and low humidity may result in dangerous fire activity. A similar warning is in effect Monday for most of the state, while crews continue to fight the Deuel Creek Fire.
“Though it is Independence Day, we urge you to avoid activities that may cause sparks,” the agency tweeted. “Any fires that develop will spread quickly!”