Brush Fire Above Utah State Capitol Leaves 5 Injured, Damages House

Jul 24, 2018, 11:12 PM | Updated: Jul 25, 2018, 1:14 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A brush fire quickly spread across 100 acres on a hillside north of the Utah State Capitol Tuesday, forcing evacuations, causing damage to one house and leaving a handful of people injured.

Two residents suffered smoke inhalation injuries and three firefighters also suffered minor injuries while fighting the fire, Salt Lake City Fire Department confirmed Tuesday evening.

The brush fire caught numerous residents by surprise.

“We heard screams and saw the smoke getting darker, and that’s when the reality of it came — ‘hey, we’re in danger,’” Maurice Melligan said. “Everyone on this hill was.”

The quickly-spreading flames led several homeowners to take matters into their own hands. Some were seen watering down lawns to prevent embers from sparking in their dry yards.

Justin Peterson grabbed a hose when he saw the fire coming close to a couple of his neighbors’ houses.

“I just ran with the hose and tried to stay in front of it,” he explained. “When firefighters showed up, the flames were so tall, the firefighters were yelling, ‘get out, get out,’ but that house and that house would be gone if we had gotten out.”

Crews used portable water tanks to attack the fire from the air. Firefighters said the Salt Lake City Council had approved their purchase earlier this year.

“I can tell you this — that we’ve been aggressively working, I think we’ve mitigated the risk the best that we know how,” Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesperson Audra Sorensen said.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski was expected to tour the fire area Wednesday morning.

Residents were grateful the fire did not result in greater losses.

“It’s unbelievable,” Tim Huffaker said. “The threat’s always there when you live in the foothills.”

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Brush Fire Above Utah State Capitol Leaves 5 Injured, Damages House