Lightning struck the pole at the Rocky Mountain Power Hydroelectric facility near a Weber Canyon rest area around 6 p.m. on Aug. 1. The resulting fire burned through the pole and caused a transformer to fall and engulf a 100-year-old spillway control house in flames.
Once firefighters from the Morgan Green Fire Protection District, they were helpless to watch as the fire burned the building.
Initially, firefighters were unable to approach the dangerous situation before them. live electric wires threatened to electrocute crews, or electrify the nearby metal fence surrounding the area and metal bridge of the dam. Flaming debris from on-fire equipment rained down onto the firefighters and grass, creating a risk of an even greater fire or injury.
“[It was] a very challenging evening, waiting for the arrival of the power company to allow us to commence fire attack while maintaining extreme vigilance against Wildland fires popping up in the Canyon from embers,” said Mountain Green Fire on social media.
Crews from Rocky Mountain Power who were on their way to shut down power were hampered by thunderstorms in the area.
In the end, Mountain Green Fire Protection, alongside Morgan County Fire & EMS, the Weber Fire District, South Weber Fire Department and Utah Department of Natural Resources Fire Warden David Vickers, the attack commenced – from a distance.
Without any available fire hydrants, firefighters had to “draft” water from a nearby river.
“Which is a difficult operation, requiring an engine to get very close to the river without sinking in the mud,” explained Mountain Green Fire.
Crews then lobbed the water from a “great distance” onto the fire due to its inaccessible and possibly electrified location. It took about six hours, but the team of firefighters was able to extinguish the flames without any injuries or further incidents.
The Rocky Mountain Power building, however, was reported to be a total loss. A representative from Rocky Mountain Power said the entire facility was due to be replaced in several months anyway.
“Our sincere thanks to tall agencies who responded and especially to our ‘silent partner’ in all our responses, Weber 911 Dispatch, our guardian angels who watch over our safety, maintaining communications with command and summoning resources instantly at our request,” said Mountain Green Fire.