WILDFIRES

Man Fights Off Flames After Cigarette Starts Goshen Canyon Fire

Jul 13, 2020, 10:50 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

GOSHEN, Utah – A man fought off flames to protect his home after he said someone threw their cigarette onto his property, sparking the Goshen Canyon Fire.

“I mean in a split second your life could be gone,” said Mario Torzillo, who has lived in the same home for 23 years.

But on Monday, he nearly lost it when in the rural town of Goshen, where time seems to slow, there was no stopping the spark that ignited in the dry brush outside his home.

“I didn’t really have time to be scared,” Torzillo said.

Torzillo said he has surveillance video showing a man who works nearby, throwing his cigarette out of his car and onto the north end of his property.

“He stops his vehicle at the end. Flips his cigarette out and the whole thing just went up. Right away,” he said. “This is what happens when you’re careless and you don’t think about other people.”

In a matter of minutes, the fire scorched his yard, taking an old car and jet ski with it. In the meantime, Torzillo rushed to get his family out of the home before he and his son grabbed his pressure washer and struggled to fight off the flames.

“If we wouldn’t have had that the house probably would have went up too,” he said. “Just barely had enough time to get everyone out.”

The flames eventually made their way behind his home, destroying the RV he and his family planned to take up to Washington in a few days. The damage spread to his solar-powered workshop where he works and keeps some prized possessions, including a priceless sports car his father left him.

“It’s heartbreaking to see it,” he said.

A heartbreaking and preventable loss, made up only by the time he still has left with those he loves.

“That’s all I care about. The stuff can be replaced but lives can’t,” Torzillo said.

Crews respond to the Goshen Canyon Fire in southern Utah County. (Courtesy Suzi Holt) Crews responding to the Goshen Canyon Fire in Utah County. (Utah County Fire Marshal/Twitter)

Fire investigators confirmed the Goshen Canyon Fire was sparked by a cigarette Monday night.

Dave Vickers with the Utah Division of Forestry said hazardous conditions contributed to the fire.

“It doesn’t take much heat to get things going,” Vickers said. “We had a wet winter but we didn’t have a real busy fire season last year so we have the dead growth from last year that’s now covered by the new growth this year and with that combination, there’s a fair amount of fuel on the ground to burn.”

Vickers said they received help early on from a hotshot crew that was on its way back home to California when the fire started.

As of Monday night, the fire had burned an estimated 215 acres. Two other homes were evacuated, but all evacuations had been lifted as of Monday night.

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Man Fights Off Flames After Cigarette Starts Goshen Canyon Fire