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Burn scar concerns force evacuation of Mapleton neighborhood

Posted at 4:37 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 23:39:37-04

MAPLETON, Utah — With the threat of a series of storms near the Ether Hollow Fire burn scar in the Mapleton area, about 20 ‘high-risk’ homes were asked to evacuate earlier Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re basically watching these kinds of weather events as they come through and trying to get people out of their homes early so we have no loss of life,” said Mapleton City Fire Chief Nicholas Glasgow, who has been closely monitoring the potential for flooding ever since the fire was extinguished last year. “The Army Corp of Engineers came in and gave us some modeling last year which basically told us that about five homes could potentially have seven to nine feet of mud impact them.”

WATCH: Severe weather, flooding continue across Utah

Residents in the area near the burn scare were notified of evacuation orders around 3 p.m. However, those orders were lifted at 4:45 p.m.

Roughly a month ago, debris flow came down the burn scar area producing nine inches of mud at the bottom of a nearby road. Residents in the area have continued to use sand bags around streets and their property for added protection.

“When we got the alert today that they wanted us to evacuate, we knew what to do, we grabbed the go bags, we threw stuff in it and we took off, it was really pretty quick,” said Steven McCowen, whose home backs up to the burn scar. “We know we’re going to have to go again, because they say for a few years after a fire on the mountain you’re going to be in danger of mud slides.”

McCowen says that the rest of the town has put together a lot of effort to make sure the neighborhood closest to the scar area is safe. Mapleton City has held numerous sand bag filling events, in which the town has come together to help one another.

“We’ve kind of just come to terms with it and that’s what we do,” said McCowen who has a plan in place and ‘go bags’ ready to be tossed into the car incase they need to go at a moments notice. “They did tell us we’re expected to get more rain over the next several days so this may happen again.”

Mapleton City Fire Department implemented an evacuation process that allows first responders to be quicker with checking the high-risk neighborhood. Each home in the area has a yellow/green cone that they use to indicate their status to local officials checking the area.

“They put it out as a message to the first responders that one they’ve received the message to evacuate and that they’ve either evacuated or choosing to shelter in place,” said Chief Glasgow, who noted that evacuation time was cut down from 30 minutes during the incident a month ago, to just 10 minutes on Wednesday afternoon. “We want people to be informed, we want them to take this serious, we want them to get out.”