WEBER COUNTY, Utah — A post on the community group "You know your from Ogden if [sic]"thanked the individual who allegedly started the Art Nord Fire while target shooting for calling authorities and not just driving away. The post received more than 1,000 likes and hundreds of comments.
Saturday afternoon, Weber County Sheriff's Office deputies evacuated homes due to a wildfire between Snowbasin Resort and Pineview Reservoir for several hours. Residents were able to return home around 10 p.m.
Investigators have determined that the blaze was caused by target shooting.
Instead of being angry at the individual who started the wildfire, many in the community are celebrating the individual for doing the right thing and owning up to what happened.
Scott Belt and Kristen Frazier were in the area preparing for a scenic drive when they saw a fire truck go by. They then watched as the fire grew.
“We ended up driving past the fire, saw the kid standing there looking just, like, sick to his stomach,” Frazier said of the individual who allegedly sparked the fire.
Belt said it’s tough to think about what could have happened if the individual didn’t immediately call it in.
“If he would have taken off, we may have been the first ones there because there was no one else there," he said. "And if it had taken that much longer to get emergency services coming, I think you would have seen a lot of homes lost in that area."
Frazier added that the individual who started the fire must be a great person for owning up to what happened.
“I really commend him for that. I think he was responsible; he did the upstanding thing. I know he probably was so afraid and didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Target shooting is legal in the area if it is at least 600 feet from structures, Jennifer Hansen with the U.S. Forest Service said. She urged people to recreate responsibly.
“Our conditions, our vegetation, is critically dry. We know that we are in extreme drought throughout the state. That is not a new message, and it has really impacted our vegetation,” she said.
Hansen added that this incident is proof that it doesn't take much to start a wildfire.
“This fire is a perfect example of how a small spark doing a various number of recreational activities can result in a significant incident,” she said.
People should have a shovel, water and a fire extinguisher ready whenever they are in these extremely dry conditions, Hansen said. Anyone who causes a wildfire through abandoned campfires, target shooting or dragging chains can be required to foot the bill for putting out the fire. About 70 percent of wildfires in Utah are human-caused.
The fire investigation is complete and is now in the hands of local law enforcement, Hansen said.