STOCKTON, Utah (ABC4) – On Monday, the Stockton Pavillion was full of concerned community members, wondering what effects could be left by the burn scar created by the Jacob City Fire.
One event on their minds is when Soldier Creek overflowed and flooded several homes in Stockton back in August 2021.
Lonnie Bates, who lives in Soldier Canyon, says his basement was ruined last year by that flood.
“There’s nothing we could do about it,” he said. “It’s really a helpless feeling to watch a wall of water like that hit you, go through and completely destroy the basement in a matter of minutes. I looked out and this flash flood is going through our yard. We could hear it destroying the basement, busting the walls, breaking our windows.”
Bates says he’s made preparations to keep his home safer in the event of another flood, such as putting a deflection wall behind his property along with window well covers to prevent water from coming in.
In the community meeting, Bucky Whitehouse, the Tooele County Emergency Manager, says the county and several other partners, including BLM and private property owners, are beginning to work on mitigation efforts. But he said it’s still important that each individual protect their own property. He asked residents in the area to do what they can to prepare, such as looking into flood insurance as the burn scar left from the Jacob City Fire can increase the potential for floods.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of restoration and recovery work on the canyon for a period of time in the future, however, what you can do now is ultimately the most important thing,” said Whitehouse.
Whitehouse also suggests residents register for the Tooele Alerts Program, which is tied into the National Weather Service Alert Program, to stay updated on weather conditions and events.
Glen Merril, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said there are at least five large drainage areas in the main burn scar that look susceptible to debris flows or floods right now — one of those areas is Soldier Creek.
Merril says 1.5 to 2 inches of rain in one hour would be needed to cause the kind of flooding that happened in 2021. He says rainfall like that today could cause similar or worse flooding due to the burn scar.
Gwen Sanchez, an incident manager trainee with the Great Basin Incident Management Team Five, says that around $5.2 million have been put into firefighting effort costs at this point, which is split between federal and local agencies.
Bates says the local community is tight-knit and helped him out after disaster struck last year. He says he knows they’ll be there for each other no matter what happens.
“This particular area, the town of Stockton, is incredible in supporting their neighbors,” said Bates. “Friends and neighbors, people we didn’t know, were coming from Stansbury and other areas to support us and help us out.”
Officials have ruled this fire as human-caused. The suspect was arrested on July 12 for Reckless Burning and Reckless Endangerment and that second charge has now been amended to Causing a Catastrophe.
As of now, officials estimate the fire at 4,195 acres and 93 percent containment.