First Responders Reflect On Handling The Gun Range Fire
Sep 1, 2019, 6:46 PM | Updated: 6:50 pm
BOUNTIFUL, Utah – As families are getting back to their homes, many are thanking the heroic efforts of the first officers on scene who helped evacuate hundreds of families.
Officers from several agencies evacuated about 400 homes early Friday morning as the Gun Range Fire blazed.
Responding agencies that supported Bountiful and Centerville Police Departments included West Bountiful Police Department, Woods Cross Police Department, North Salt Lake Police Department, North Salt Lake Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, and the Davis County Sheriff’s Office.
“So Officer Barrera and I just got done on a traffic stop,” Bountiful Police Department Officer Ian DuPape said.
It was supposed to be a night like any other.
“For Bountiful that night I had three officers out, not including myself, so four total for the entire city,” Bountiful Police Sergeant Andrew Smith said.
However, things quickly changed when a rookie officer spotted flames on the mountain warning the other officers in the area.
“I flipped around and came back and saw the fire coming down the hill, and as the fire was coming down the hill, it was going really fast,” DuPape said. “You have about 45 miles per hour westerly winds.”
“The time that I got up here to the time the structure started catching was probably 10 minutes or less,” Smith explained about the fire’s origination point.
Smith is an 11-year veteran. He was the incident commander directing officer efforts and evacuations.
The small crew of officers sprung to action informing other agencies but with no time to wait, took matters into their own hands.
“I drove up and I saw the fire going into the backyards of some of the houses so I told all the officers that were around me, let’s get all these people out,” DuPape said. “I’m telling them, ‘hey you need to leave you need to get out of here.’”
DuPape is a five-year veteran. He said he knocked on at least 50 homes early Friday morning to evacuate residents.
In one neighborhood, some homes were already on fire. Three homes were lost during the fire.
“We went into a cul-de sac where the fire was engulfing houses and I was fearful that some people might still be in their house,” DuPape shared. “So I kicked in a door on one house, went in with one of the highway patrol guys trying to find out if anyone was in and we didn’t find anyone but the smoke was so bad it was really hard for us to breathe so we just got out and kept knocking houses trying to get people out.”
“Going into structures with the house on fire, that is not something we are prepared to do as police officers,” Smith said.
However, officers had no time to waste.
“We don’t have the equipment or the tools but it shows how much my officers wanted to help people,” Smith said of his officers taking on the task of evacuating homes. “It makes me proud to work with them.”
“I was just scared people were inside sleeping and their house was on fire and at that point you just start kicking doors,” DuPape explained.
Today, standing from the fire’s origination point, DuPape thinks back on that day.
“I can’t believe all the acres that are burnt. There’s just no words,” DuPape shared, holding back his emotions. “I’m just grateful they were able to get out, you know, that they had an opportunity.”
According to Smith, no major injuries were reported. One officer was treated for smoke inhalation.