RIVERDALE, Utah – Nearly a dozen homes were voluntarily evacuated in a Riverdale neighborhood when a brush fire came within 50 feet of homes near 3700 S. 600 West Wednesday afternoon.
The fire sparked between the homes and the Weber River pathway, and police said it was all due to a careless act.
Neighbors captured the flames on their cell phones as the fire snaked through a dense forest area behind the homes. Firefighters strung hoses through backyards and spent hours holding the fire at bay until they got it under control around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Mike Voorhees' daughter was home with the babysitter when a neighbor knocked on the door and said it was time to evacuate. Voorhees rushed home and grabbed his garden hose.
"(I) grabbed hoses that were on the ground and it jumped at least 50 feet,” he said. “It was burning all up and down the way side and got about 20 feet from those two homes, which they evacuated.”
"It got within 10 feet of the house or the back fence," said neighbor Dan McAllister "It was a little bit scary. When it started shooting up through the trees and getting thick, the fire department got here and did a really good job of knocking it down."
Old Cottonwood trees are scattered through the dense, overgrown brush.
Those trees have flammable seeds that spread easily in the wind. The Riverdale fire chief said a 19-year-old male was showing kids how easily those seeds can catch fire when the blaze ignited.
"(He) took a lighter out and showed them how to light it and it got too hot for him and he dropped it," said Riverdale Fire Chief Roger Bodily. "He said he tried to put it out but kinda walked away from it and when he looked back, he could see it was burning."
Police cited the teenager for reckless burning, a misdemeanor. Cops said he never intended to start the fire. It took firefighters from a handful of agencies several hours to get the fire under control.
"I would say they got it out fairly quickly” Voorhees said. “I'm glad I had what I had, or it would've been closer to the house.”