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Windy weather creating hazardous fire danger across Utah before Independence Day

Jul 3, 2023, 11:53 PM | Updated: 11:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — High winds are making fire conditions extra dangerous for the Fourth of July weekend.

Mike and Sarah Newbry are spending the long weekend at Willard Bay. They started the tradition a couple of years ago and love it. They take their kids and enjoy vacation that’s close to home. But this weekend, they saw firsthand how dangerous fire conditions are when a fire sparked near their campsite.

“We looked over and saw a lot of commotion and a lot of smoke coming from the parking lot,” Mike Newbry said.

His wife saw it, too.

“I grabbed my son and my nephew and handed them pails from our sandcastle stuff and said run and get water,” Sarah Newbry told KSL TV.

Dozens of others quickly joined and created a “bucket brigade” and got the grass fire out.

Officials said the fire was likely started by a cigarette butt, and the Newbrys said it’s likely the person responsible has no idea.

The Newbrys said the whole experience left them impressed by the willingness of people to jump in, not ask questions and get to work. But also how fast a small fire can spread.

There were a few fires burning across the state the day before Independence Day.

The Cedar Knoll Fire in southern Utah County is believed to have started by lightning Monday afternoon. Smoke jumpers spent the day fighting the front lines of the fire, which is burning in steep terrain. Helicopters also dropped several rounds of water. Officials expect the fire to be fully contained by Tuesday evening.

Crews said the biggest challenge with this fire is the weather, erratic winds and thunderstorms.

With fireworks now legal to light until Wednesday, several fire agencies issued a warning.

“Two weeks ago, the majority of this grass was green, and, of course, this is the very fast fuel that causes such rapid flame spread,” Chief Jess Campbell with the Saratoga Springs Fire Department told KSL TV.

The Newbrys said they’re relieved the fire is out at Willard and they can enjoy the rest of the weekend, spending time together as a family. They’re also thankful for a community that came together in a hurry.

“All it takes is just one little spark or one little hot coal from your grill and suddenly you’ve got a big disaster,” Mike Newbry said.

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Windy weather creating hazardous fire danger across Utah before Independence Day