Crews respond to 6 grass fires in Salt Lake Valley; officials suspect arson

Posted at 9:50 AM, Aug 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 00:56:46-04

DRAPER, Utah -- Crews responded to six suspicious grass fires on the south end of the Salt Lake Valley Sunday morning.

The first two fires were reported in Herriman at 8:20 a.m. in Rose Canyon. Dan Brown with Unified Fire Authority said both were small in size.

The second pair of fires were reported in Draper at about 9 a.m. on Deer Ridge Drive, near Trail Crest Court.

Tanya Park said the fire sparked right below her house, which sits on a hill. She was eating breakfast with her kids, when a neighbor who drove by the fire alerted her by honking his horn.

"We called 911, and they told us to get out of our home, that we weren't to be in it," she recounted.

Park said they immediately ran out of the house, still in their pajamas.

Wind pushed the smoke and flames uphill, she said. The blaze chewed through brush in an empty lot in between her home and another home.

"Had no idea which direction it was going to go- if it was going to come right at us," she said. "It was pretty much right in our backyard."

Then, the second fire broke out down the street, next to another neighbor's home.

"We all rushed that way, and tried to find hoses and tried to fight the fire that direction, until the firefighters could get down there as well," she explained.

Unified Fire Authority said in all, five homes were evacuated, though, luckily, none of them were damaged by the two half-acre fires.

Just over an hour later, two other grass fires were reported in Lehi on Minuteman Drive at 10:15 a.m.

Lehi Fire Department Battalion Chief Kim Beck said at first, the call came in as a single brush fire.

When fire fighters arrived, Beck said they realized it was actually, "two separate fires. We've got about three acres on one fire, and one acre on the northern fire."

He and Brown said there's definitely a possible connection, because all the fires occurred within two hours of each other.

"Just talking with the chiefs from the other valley, it looks like it is arson in nature," Beck said.

While fire officials investigate, Park said her neighbor saw a possible arson suspect flee from the scene.

She said her neighbor reported seeing a man ignite the second Draper fire, by lighting what appeared to be a small campfire.

The neighbor, she said, saw the man jump into a car, flip a U-turn, then peel out and race away.

Anyone with information on the blazes is asked to call dispatch at 801-840-4000.