Hillside fire in Cottonwood Heights comes dangerously close to homes

Posted at 8:00 AM, Sep 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-03 21:47:44-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Cell phone video captured flames that broke out on a hillside in Cottonwood Heights Thursday morning just after 3 a.m.

The flames inched dangerously close to homes above and below the hill near 2498 East 7830 South.

Renee King lives in the Cottonwood Heights neighborhood. She left her window open overnight, and just before 3 a.m. she smelled smoke.

“I called 911 then woke up my neighbors to get some support and to make sure they got their babies out,” King said.

Neighbors like Krystle Irvin grabbed hoses and began spraying down the dry grass, but the flames spread quickly.

“As soon as we saw the flames visible, not just smoke, I left and ran and grabbed my two small girls," King said. "Got them and the dog out of the house and made sure they were safe."

Firefighters arrived and had to navigate a steep, sandy hill.

“The steeper the slope is, the more the heat below retreats the fuels and makes them more ready to burn,” said Mike Watson, assistant fire chief of Unified Fire Authority.

Gusty winds didn’t help. Less than an acre burned before firefighters contained the blaze.

Fire investigators credit residents for tipping them off.

“We appreciate the residents being very alert," Watson said. "They sleep with their bedroom window open and they smelled the smoke and called it 911. Real quickly I that was very helpful."

Investigators are still looking for the exact cause of the fire.

In the meantime, fire officials are reminding people to build defensible space around your home. Trim plants and trees. It’s that time of year when grasses are drying out and they’re ready to burn.