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Front Page » June 15, 2006 » Local News » Wildfire threatens Kenilworth homes
Published 3,402 days ago

Wildfire threatens Kenilworth homes

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Sun Advocate reporter

Charred ground cover and burned bushes demonstrate how a wildfire threatened homes in Kenilworth last week.Emergency personnel from three agencies responded to the fire. The blaze also threatened a gas well head located northwest of the homes. Helper City Fire Dapartment crews responded to scene with three trucks shortly before 11 p.m. on June 5. The Price fire department responded with two trucks and Wellington later arrived at the scene with a tanker truck. In addition, the county sent an ambulance and two water trucks to assist with the emergency efforts.

Emergency personnel from three agencies responded to a fire last week in the Kenilworth area.

The blaze threatened homes on the east side of the town and a gas well head northwest of the homes.

Helper Fire Chief Mike Zamantakis said his department responded to reports of a fire just before 11 p.m. on June 5.

Zamantakis indicated that Helper's fire department responded immediately to the call with three trucks.

Before the Helper team reached Kenilworth, a drive of more than five miles, firefighters in Price were en route to the site to provide support.

Price fire department responded with two trucks and Wellington later responded with a tanker truck.

In addition, the county sent an ambulance and two water trucks.

Zamantakis explained that he was concerned whether the water tank in Kenilworth had the capacity to fight a large fire and the county water trucks were sent to provide additional supply.

Crews did not connect to the county water trucks and the water tank in Kenilworth was adequate.

The Helper fire chief said that a single truck operated by the department had pumped more than 15,000 gallons while firefighters worked to control the flames.

After arriving at the fire, firefighters spent the next few hours battling the blaze, which extended north to south along the line of homes.

Zamantakis said the Helper City Fire Department did not finish fighting the blaze until 2 a.m on June 6.

In addition, the Helper chief indicated that wind was a factor in the fire.

With Kenilworth located so close to the mouth of Price Canyon, wind blowing down the canyon contributed to the spread and size of the fire.

After Helper crews left the scene, firefighters from the United States Bureau of Land Management arrived to ensure that the blaze was completely extinguished.

Though BLM crews worked through the day, Helper's fire department was again dispatched to the scene slightly before 9 p.m. on June 6.

The fire had reportedly reignited after canyon winds added fuel to coals that had apparently been overlooked by BLM crews.

The Helper department battled a smaller fire and the extinguished flames more quickly than they had the previous day, explained Zamantakis.

The chief indicated that the fire was reportedly started by an individual who was shooting bottle rockets.

Zamantakis said a rocket had traveled approximately 30 to 50 feet from where it started and ignited a fire in a grassy area.

He added that bottle rockets are illegal in Utah and that the person who had started the fire was cited accordingly and will be required to make restitution.

Zamantakis explained that the restitution required in this type of fire can run into the thousands of dollars and carries stiff penalties for individuals responsible for the fire.

The area affected by the fire is largely owned by Blackhawk Coal Company, but is zoned as mining and grazing. In addition to threatening homes on 675 East, the fire came close to a well owned by Marion Energy. The fire also destroyed one shed. However, no homes were destroyed.

Zamantakis pointed out that many of the grasslands across the county are in a condition that could help fuel a fire.

He said that the spring has been long and wet. As a result, grasses have grown higher in some places than they normally grow.

Despite the wet weather, recent temperatures have been higher than normal, with some days breaking records set years earlier.

The warmer temperatures have helped to dry out the tall grasses. The outcome is large areas of tall grasses primed for burning.

At present, there are no fire restrictions in place for Carbon County as a whole, though regulations are in place in many cities.

Across the state, the only area where blanket fire restrictions are currently is place in the southeast of the state.

For those in Carbon County who plan to ignite controlled burns, Zamantakis emphasized that each city has its own burning ordinance and residents should be aware of when they can and cannot burn. For many areas, burning is only allowed when the fire index is below a certain threshold. A daily fire index can be obtained from the Price public safety dispatch.

Regardless of the regulations, Zamantakis suggested that people be especially careful right now. Many areas of the county are not governed by a fire ordinance. Though individuals in these areas may be allowed more leniency when it comes to fires, the fire chief urged all county residents to be responsible.

He said that there is often a higher incidence of fires as the summer holidays approach. As recreational activities increase, those who start fires should be sure to make sure flames are completely extinguished before leaving a fire unattended.

In addition, fireworks are a common cause of fires. Even when fireworks displays are monitored, firefighters often have to battle flames that result from falling ashes or other airborne materials that can start a fire.

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