Alaskan Fire in Weber County most likely caused by vehicle, investigators say

Utah Wildfires

WEBER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – The Alaskan Fire broke out in Ogden Canyon yesterday evening just after 6 p.m., burning roughly three acres. Firefighters were quick on scene and kept the fire from endangering nearby homes, and gained full containment early this afternoon. Weber Fire District is investigating the cause and at this time says it is being labeled: probable automobile.

Fire crews remain on scene throughout Thursday mopping up hot spots. Initially, four agencies responded to the fire with more than 30 crew members and two helicopters to fight the blaze. Thursday morning, Utah Fire Info announced a crew of 10 would remain on scene and that the fire was 25% contained. By 1 p.m., Utah Fire Info announced 100% containment.

As crews continued mopping up throughout the afternoon, officials from Weber Fire District continued with the investigation into the cause of the fire.

“Evidence can be destroyed,” Weber Fire District Deputy Fire Marshal Greg Wright told ABC4. “It can be hard to pick out.”

To help narrow the search for evidence, Weber Fire District officials mapped out the burned area to find the area of origin. “He’s looking for staining on rocks, or other items in the ground,” WFD Deputy Fire Chief David Reed explained while pointing to Wright as he stuck small, colored flags into the burned ground. “It will show which way rolled up on it.”

Red, yellow, and blue flags mark different types of fire movement. Fire officials said even if there isn’t an ignition source (like a lighter) on scene, finding the area of origin is helpful in ruling out different causes.

“If our area of origin is up here on the hill, that means it’s even less likely that someone would hike up the hill a little ways and start it,” stated Reed.

Reed told ABC4 there were a few causes they could rule out pretty soon after the fire started. He said there were no lightning strikes recorded in the area. He also said there was no slag, which is often produced when a fire is caused by faulty power lines. He explained with the fire starting in an area that is not easily accessible, it also helps rule out arson fairly easily.

“The most likely cause would have been something from a vehicle,” added Wright. “And it is hard to pin it down and determine exactly what that is.”

Reed said when a vehicle starts a fire, it can be as a result of dragging chains, carbon from an exhaust, or even a faulty catalytic converter. He told ABC4 with the drought we are in, a single spark from a vehicle can be devastating. He added: “If that temperature is high enough and the fuel moisture in the grass is low enough, then it can start that fire.”

Reed explained that even though this fire was in some of the worst terrain for firefighters because it is so steep, it would have been much worse had it started on the other side of the road which is south facing and much dryer.

With the area of origin being determined, Reed told ABC4 the team can carefully comb through the area looking for a potential fire source.

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