WILDFIRES

Investigators suspect fireworks caused Evanston grass fire that forced evacuation

Jul 4, 2018, 11:56 PM

EVANSTON, WYOMING – A grass fire quickly spread across 75 acres Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of 100 homes and leading to the cancellation of the city’s Fourth of July display.

“I thought for sure we were losing homes today,” said Uinta County Fire Warden Eric Quinney.

Instead, Quinney said, wind direction changed and crews were able to get the upper hand on the fire as it started to reach the backyards of several houses.

Investigators initially believed the fire was firework-related, Quinney said.

The blaze started just after 3 p.m. and quickly spread west to east, raging over a hillside.

“(It’s) not what we wanted to see from our balcony,” Cami Mueller said from her deck, which sat well below the fire line.

It was a more harrowing experience for Tib Ottley, who — along with his wife — was forced to evacuate from their home above Troy Ct.

“They said that the flames were actually coming over the top of this deck,” Ottley said. “One of the fire guys told me to go buy a lottery ticket — we were that lucky.”

Quinney said because of the fire, the city did not go forward with its yearly firework display.

“We put a full ban on fireworks in the city of Evanston to start,” he said, noting that Uinta County was also going to be subject to a fireworks ban.

By 7:30 p.m., Quinney said the fire was under control and crews were mopping up hot spots.

Ottley said he was grateful to firefighters for their hard work that kept the flames away from his house.

“This could have been devastating,” Ottley said. “It could have been devastating.”

Mueller said while it was disappointing there were no fireworks, the ban was understandable.

“It’s better to be safe because it is so dry, and if they can’t be safe with the fireworks, then yeah, ban them,” Mueller said.

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Investigators suspect fireworks caused Evanston grass fire that forced evacuation