Wildfire zone briefly opened to residents to check on homes

Jul 5, 2018, 5:58 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm

FRUITLAND, Utah – Hundreds of people chased out of their homes by the Dollar Ridge Fire still did not know whether their homes and cabins were still standing.

Thursday morning, for just two hours, some homeowners had a chance to check on their properties and gather up a few more belongings.

For the past couple of days, people forced to evacuate their homes have watched the massive fire sweep over their mountain neighborhoods. They wondered about their homes and cabins and hoped for the best. While fire officials have reported as many as 90 homes have been lost, other homeowners got some relief.

“It was right on this ridge and coming down over. We had ash come in the yard,“ said Michelle Haddow.

When Haddow and Sandy Slaymaker left their home three days ago, the fire was headed their way. They’ve been camping at the evacuation center ever since.

“We watched one night and it just looks like a war zone,” she said. “Hotspots, black. I mean, it was horrible.“

Thursday they discovered their home has not been damaged, yet.

“Our mountains aren’t going to be the same for a long time, but this is our home. This is what we love this is why we live here,“ she said.

Several of their neighbors weren’t so lucky. They lost their homes.

“It’s heartbreaking,“ said Haddow.

Property owners were allowed to check in with deputies from the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office at a rest stop on U.S. Highway 40, check on their properties, and check out as they left.

They had to be out by 1 p.m., when the winds generally pick up and fan the fire.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,“ said Mark George, who has spent a lot of time in this part of the state.

“I have never seen such a vicious violent fire anywhere, on TV, or anywhere in my life,“ he said.

He and his wife have a second home south of Fruitland, and had planned to spend the week until the fire started to threaten their home when it started on Sunday. They spent a nervous night watching the fire creep closer.

“At about 12:30 p.m. Monday, we saw the fire come up over the ridge a few miles west of us,“ George said.

He said they packed up essentials and readied their home for fire. Shortly after that, they were escorted out by a couple of sheriff’s deputies.

“If we had been in there another hour we may have gotten trapped,“ he said.

Fire swept through that area, he said. He still did not know if his home was standing, because he arrived too late Thursday to go in and check on it.

Brody Chadwick of Bluebell was surprised to discover his family’s cabin still standing after watching the fire burn to the edge of the property on Tuesday.

“It was just completely black with clouds rolling through. It wasn’t good,” he said.

He feared his cabin was gone. After seeing it was fine, he feared for his neighbors.

“That’s just our cabin,” said Chadwick. “That’s not our home. My grandpa built it from the bottom up. Everybody that’s lost everything on that mountainside – that’s not good.”

Nobody KSL spoke with had lost their home, but deputies were only allowing people into areas that were considered safe.

Other people jumped in their trucks on the Wasatch Front and raced up U.S. 40 when they saw the posting on the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, saying the area would be opened briefly. By the time they got there, it was too late for some of them to go in. That was frustrating for those people. Some said they will try again Friday.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Wildfire zone briefly opened to residents to check on homes