Fire officials say blaze in Draper a reminder for spectators not to block emergency crews’ access

Posted at 9:17 PM, Apr 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-18 23:17:33-04

DRAPER, Utah -- The Unified Fire Authority said they experienced delays getting to a fire Friday evening in Draper because there were just too many cars and people in the way.

The fire displaced a family of five and caused more than $200,000 in damage to a house on East Crimson Oak Drive.

Residents say responders had two fights on their hands, fighting the actual fire and getting to the fire.

“I think a lot of them got a little too close last night, a lot of them were neighbors but some of them were just coming around, curiosity, checking things out--and it did impair the fire department,” said neighbor Dave Seare. “It was tough for them to do the response that they needed to do.”

The Unified Fire Authority said narrow streets, with parked cars on both sides, was also a bad combination

“The fire crews on the initial response did not have a delay, but it was the secondary crews, all the way up to our investigators, that had to make a little bit of a hike to get all the way up into the fire,” said Battalion Chief Jay Ziolkowski.

According to neighbors, some people walked or even drove several blocks just to see what was happening, causing more congestion than necessary.

“There was a fire engine coming down, I think it was a third responder, and I noticed there were cars in front of him and he did have to wait maybe 20 or 30 or 40 seconds for those cars to clear,” said neighbor Robert Wall. “They should have pulled off the road when they saw that fire engine with all those lights going off. They definitely should have pulled off the side of the road.”

Unified Fire Authority said avoiding these delays would not have prevented any of the damage to the house, but they said it should still serve as a lesson to everyone during times of emergency.

“We just remind everyone: Please do everything you can to stay back, make sure that all of our access points are left open,” Ziolkowski said.

The fire accidentally started in the garage when charcoal from a barbecue was thrown out in the trash can, causing it to burn. The residents had thought the charcoal had gone out, but it had not.

No people inside the home were injured, but one pet cat was killed.