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After Wildfires, Sandbagging Efforts Underway In Lehi, Saratoga Springs

LEHI, Utah – It’s the kind of backyard to get away from it all.

Richard Williams said his waterfall, fire pit and landscaping give him a sense of peace.

“It’s a little slice of heaven,” he said.

But, late Saturday night into Sunday morning, he couldn’t get away fast enough.

“We were asleep and we started hearing the doorbell and people knocking on doors,” said Williams. “We woke up and our neighbor across the street said ‘get out, the hill is on fire.'”

His home, and dozens of others along Autumn Hills Boulevard in Lehi, were in the direct path of the Traverse Fire.

“We left to go to my son’s house, and I looked back on the house and I thought, that’s the last time I’ll see that house,” said Williams.

The fire got within 50 feet of his home, but shifting winds and hard-working firefighters kept it from burning any homes down.

“I call it the miracle of Autumn Hills Boulevard,” he said.

However, Williams was now concerned about something else.

After wildfires, mudslides are often a big problem.

Especially for communities at the base of a mountain.

“Then the next day, it started to rain,” said Williams.

When Williams got back home, though, he found his neighbors had already placed sandbags around all his basement windows.

Those neighbors also put sandbags on the mountain slope above his house to try and save it if the rain kept coming.

“They came to 42 houses,” said Williams. “And they did all of it in a matter of a couple of hours.”

Lehi wasn’t the only city concerned about mudslide potential.

After the Knolls Fire burned through Saratoga Springs this weekend, residents were preparing too.

The city made sandbags available at the City South Marine at 156 West Harbor Park Way and at Latter-day Saint meetinghouses off 88 West Harbor Parkway and 2947 South Swainson Avenue.

The city was asking residents to mobilize to surround homes with sandbags, in case of more rain.

“With a rainstorm, we likely will have some flooding,” said Kari Boyd-Peak with the Bureau of Land Management. “With the terrain being that steep, and now that the vegetation has been burned off, so the soil will be very unstable.”

One thing that wasn’t unstable, though, was the community spirit here for neighbors to help each other.

Williams has seen it firsthand in Lehi.

He now hoped he doesn’t have to get away from it all again.

“It brings tears to my eyes to realize how much we are loved by the neighbors,” he said.

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