WILDFIRES

Salt Lake City Neighbors Helped Save Each Other’s Homes

Jul 25, 2018, 1:57 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – People living north of the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City have a breathtaking view, but they know the risks of wildfires.

Wednesday, neighbors reflected on how one of their fears became reality as a wildfire scorched land feet from their homes on Pioneer Day forcing some evacuations.

Tuesday’s fire burned dangerously close to homes

Tuesday’s fire came within feet of homes on Columbus Court

“It was crazy. We were having a barbecue at my house, a little pool party. We were literally in the pool and we saw this huge plume of smoke drifting between houses,” said Justin Peterson, who helped fight the fire.

Peterson has surveillance video showing him jumping out of his pool when he saw the smoke.

“The fire was moving so fast. It was huge. It got so close to us over here it literally burned the hair off my arms,” he said.

Peterson and his friends grabbed garden hoses and started dousing any dry vegetation and growing flames.

“When the fire department finally showed up, the flames were so tall they’re yelling ‘Get out, get out,’ but that house and that house would have been gone, if we didn’t help out,” he said Tuesday night. KSL-TV captured video of him and his friends in action.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski & Fire Chief Karl Lieb

Mayor Jackie biskupski speaks with neighbors who helped fight the fire.

During the chaos, their kids and wives escaped the only way they could. Surveillance video showed them hiking up their backyard hill.

“It [the fire] had jumped the road. Both sides of the road had fire 20 to 30 feet tall,” said Peterson.

Damage was miraculously minimal, and now these neighbors are closer than ever.

“Anyone coming in, they’re finding hoses at any house and connecting them for us,” said Peterson. “One guy gave me his flip flops because I was barefoot.”

The experience also connected them the firefighters who they greatly respect.

“We did what we could and when… I understand getting people out first absolutely, but man it’s really hard to walk away from your life’s work and your neighbors’ life work. You got to protect it,” said Peterson, who said it was an unforgettable Pioneer Day.

As of Wednesday, firefighters continued to search for the cause of the 100-acre fire.

Salt Lake City Fire Chief Karl Lieb talks about the “Herculean” response on Tuesday

Peterson and his neighbors are urging people to be careful with fire.

After firefighters left Tuesday night, they had to yell at kids launching Roman candles right by their house.

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Salt Lake City Neighbors Helped Save Each Other’s Homes