WEBER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Firefighters are getting closer to containing the Valley Fire today. It broke out yesterday afternoon in Weber County near the mouth of Ogden Canyon and threatened more than 30 homes. During the night, wind gusts surpassed 20 mph and caused a flare up which resulted in 10 homes being evacuated. This afternoon, fire officials lifted that evacuation order and had 40 percent containment on the fire.
The Valley Fire has been a tough fire to tackle. It’s in an area in Ogden City limits (ear Ogden Road) that is both residential and wildland. The hills are steep, and homes sit at the top of the hills with little to no defensible space around them.
When the fire initially ignited, officials evacuated 25 homes in the area. Early in the night, that evacuation order was lifted. However, after 10 pm, canyon winds increased, and the fire flared back up. At this time, 10 additional homes had to be evacuated.
“They were doing their job as fast and hard as they could. If it wasn’t for some luck and the hard work of those firefighters, we would have lost a couple of those homes,” Ogden City Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Slater stated.
He explained that the fire quickly raced up the hill towards three homes in a cul-de-sac at the top. He said the homes lacked defensible space in their landscaping which made it difficult for firefighters. They brought in three ladder trucks, had the ladders extend over the houses’ roofs to the back yard, and spray water down the hill at the encroaching flames.
Firefighters were able to knock the fire back down and spent the entire day (Wednesday) mopping up hot spots.
“It’s just a difficult fire to fight,” Slater said. “The days are shorter, so we have a little more humidity in the grasses but it’s still too dry.” He added: “It’s just abnormal to have 100-degree weather in September and then get these winds involved. We had a little bit of help with the humidity but not enough to slow the fire down.”
Monsoons recently passed through the state. However, Utah is not out of the woods just yet. Weber County Assistant Fire Warden TJ Reeder stated: “It isn’t adequate moisture to get us out of fire danger yet.”
This year in Utah there have been 851 wildfires. Of those, 47 percent have been human caused. Altogether, more than 25,000 acres have burned.
“A lot of families are still trying to get out and get their last few camping trips in before the end of summer, and we’re also getting into hunting season,” Reeder said. As Utahns recreate, Reeder said they should follow all fire restrictions where they are at. Before they leave on any trip, they should also perform regularly scheduled maintenance on their vehicles. “We’ve had a lot of vehicle fires throughout the whole state,” he stated. Vehicle fires often make the top of the list when it comes to human-caused fires. They are also one of the easiest to prevent. Regular maintenance that is proven to help prevent fires is often as simple as topping off the coolant, making sure tires are adequately full, making sure no parts are dragging (including chains on trailers), and never parking in tall grass.
The cause of the Valley Fire is still under investigation. However, fire officials said it was most likely human caused. This is a good reminder for residents who live along the bench to be good homeowners. “We ask people who live in these kinds of areas to maybe make some defensible space around their homes so that it makes it easier for firefighters to fight the fire,” Slated stated.
The fire has burned 15 acres. Small crews will remain on scene for the next few days to continue mopping up hot spots. After the sun sets, fire officials plan to send up drones to get an updated map of those hotspots as well as current containment.