One Year After Knolls Fire, Saratoga Springs Reminds of Unprecedented Fire Danger

Jul 1, 2021, 7:14 PM | Updated: 7:45 pm

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A year after a fast-moving fire forced the evacuation of a third of the city, Saratoga Springs is warning about extreme fire danger and reminding residents of fireworks restrictions.

“If there were a year that I would absolutely tell people to please reconsider and back off—it’s this year,” Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Jess Campbell said about fireworks.

Campbell said state law does not allow the city to implement a blanket ban on fireworks. Instead, the city has issued the following restrictions:

  • If you live within 75 feet of an undeveloped lot or property in a residential neighborhood or area, ALL fireworks are banned from use in these areas within a 75-foot proximity of such property.
  • If you live within 200 feet of ANY undeveloped and urban interface area; this is any area that is next to the foothills, large areas of undeveloped property, or agriculture fields. ALL fireworks are banned from use in these areas within a 200-foot proximity of such property.

In addition, the fire chief sent out a letter implementing a ban on aerial fireworks for more than 90 streets in the city.

For a full list of restrictions and an interactive map, visit the city website.

“In areas where fireworks are allowed you are strongly encouraged to exercise extreme caution and safety during this time of unprecedented fire danger,” Saratoga Springs said in a Facebook post. “As a reminder all fireworks are banned from all City Parks, city property and open spaces.”

Starting Friday, police officers and firefighters will be patrolling the city and issuing citations for those violating the restrictions.

Campbell said the Knolls Fire from one year ago is still fresh on his mind and serves as a motivation to warn about this year’s fire danger.

“What I clearly understood in the Knolls Fire is that when we have a situation like that we’re not at all in control,” he said. “That was Mother Nature.”

It was Sunday, June 28, 2020 when the quick-moving fire broke out and forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents.

“We had constant 40 to 50 mile per hour winds feeding that fire,” Campbell said. “It was one of the fastest fire spreads I’ve ever seen.”

The flames entered backyards, destroyed fences and melted the siding on houses. But at the last moment the winds shifted, saving the homes within city limits. One lake home was destroyed in the fire.

“I don’t have any other adjective but miraculous,” Campbell said about the change in wind direction.

“Truly blessed,” Alex Fenderson said about his home and street being spared at the last minute.

Federson’s home was damaged and required new siding, windows and special interior cleaning to remove the smell of smoke. Even today, he said the fire is always in the back of his mind.

“It crossed this field in like a minute,” he said standing in his backyard during an interview with KSL TV.

He said he was surprised with how quickly the flamed approached.

“I literally hollered at my kids, ‘We got to go now!’ he said. “We were in that car in three seconds—I’m not kidding you—and we just drove.”

Fenderson said the smoke was so thick that he could barely see the road ahead of him as he drove away from his home.

He’s not concerned about the field behind his house this summer because the vegetation hasn’t grown back. He does have a message for other neighborhoods next to dry fields.

“Heed those fire warnings,” he said. “Seriously, you cannot stress them enough.”

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One Year After Knolls Fire, Saratoga Springs Reminds of Unprecedented Fire Danger