SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – As most homes are now out of danger from the Knolls Fire, some residents face another threat.
The 13,000-acre fire burned a significant portion of the mountainside that towers over the city.
If the area sees heavy rain in the near future, that burn scar could send mud flooding into homes near the base of the mountain.
To prepare for the worst-case scenario, dozens of volunteers filled sandbags to protect houses if mudslides become a reality.
“Our city is set up like stadium seating. We have this great view but it’s on a slope and that slope means we have to mitigate runoff,” said David Johnson, a spokesperson for Saratoga Springs city. “Our normal infrastructure mitigates runoff, but when we have a burn scar like this, we got to make other plans to help mitigate any runoff.”
Volunteers shoveled sand into roughly 10,000 bags.
One of those pitching in was Saratoga Springs firefighter David McNamara. Despite working three straight days fighting the fire with little rest, he used his break to help his neighbors.
“It’s been a hectic couple of days,” McNamara said. “I love the city of Saratoga, especially the citizens. They are the real heroes, honestly. There are a couple of us here and the rest are them.”
McNamara was joined by other firefighters and police officers who volunteered at the conclusion of their normal shifts. Families, church groups and local leaders also did what they could to help.
“This is great to see the community pull together like this,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor Jim Miller. “We have residents here wanting to make sure their neighbors are taken care of.”
“I’m just here to show my kids how to get out and help,” said Saratoga Springs resident Cathy Smith.
After the bags were filled and placed on pallets, they were taken to various church parking lots where they were distributed to homeowners.
Volunteers worked into the evening because the need was so great.