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Two homes destroyed, 100 acres burned in Herriman fire

Posted at 9:53 AM, Sep 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 23:07:17-04

HERRIMAN, Utah-- Unified Fire Authority (UFA) said a juvenile suspect has been taken into custody for allegedly starting a fire that burned more than 100 acres and two homes in Herriman Saturday afternoon.

The cause of the fire appeared to be fireworks, specifically smoke bombs, UFA officials said.

Crews worked to contain the three-alarm fire that began in a field and destroyed three buildings, injured one firefighter and four police officers, and sparked a power outage for 700 people.

The blaze burned near 7520 West and 13800 South, and UFA said it started around 1:50 p.m.

Hyrum Dansie said he and his sister were mowing a lawn nearby when his sister spotted the flames in a field.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this thing's huge!'" He recounted. "We got to get out of here."

Denise Howland was heading home with her daughter, when she said her husband called to say the neighbor's house was on fire and that he and their son were trying to grab items to evacuate.

She pulled up the road, but said the fire had already jumped the street and she was forced to stop.

"I saw the fire hit my house, and then it hit my children's bedrooms first and then it just took off really fast from there," Howland said. "It's gone. The barn's gone, house is gone."

Douglas Johnston, who lives a few doors down, said he could see the Howland family's log home engulfed in flames. He and other neighbors rushed to leave their houses as the fire continued spreading.

"Our granddaughter and her friends were taking stuff out of our home," he said.

150 fire fighters from nearly every agency across the valley responded, UFA said, and they faced strong winds as they battled the flames.

"30 to 40 mile per hour winds, which is making it very difficult to fight this fire," UFA spokesperson Ryan Love said.

One firefighter was injured and transported to a local hospital as a precaution, said UFA spokesperson Matthew McFarland. He said four officers with the Unified Police Department were treated for smoke inhalation.

By nightfall, UFA said the fire had burned 100+ acres and was 90 percent contained. In total, two homes and one outbuilding burned.

"Our kids grew up in that house," Howland said. "We have so many memories in that house."

Now she's trying to understand how a juvenile with alleged smoke bombs led to her losing her home and all of her family's possessions-- especially because she said fireworks are banned in their area and conditions have been hot and dry.

"I don't understand why they couldn't listen to the warnings. Luckily nobody has lost their life," she said.

Howland said she's grateful that her family is safe and okay, including their dog. But still, her family only escaped with the clothes on their back, and she said now everything is gone.

"My family paid the price today," she said. "We paid for their mistake."