Wind-whipped West Valley City blaze caused by downed power line

The high winds caused problems Thursday, April 13, bringing down a power line that then started a grass fire near 1885 W. Printers Row (2300 South). Photo: Gephardt Daily

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, April 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The high winds caused problems Thursday, bringing down a power line that then started a grass fire near 1885 W. Printers Row (2300 South). But it didn’t end there.

“While they were en route,” said West Valley City Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Fox “they saw heavy black smoke, which indicates something other than a grass fire.”

The wind had blown the line down, the downed line started a grass fire, and then the wind extended the blaze into some vehicles and a shed. Fox said one of the biggest problems crews faced with this fire was that the wind was blowing all the smoke directly at them when they arrived.

“We had to get on the leeward side, so we could see what we were fighting,” Fox  said.

Fire crews were dispatched at about 5:20 p.m., and the fire was quickly brought under control.

Rocky Mountain Power was at the scene, dealing with the downed line, and Fox said a power pole also was severely damaged by the fire and would probably have to be replaced.

Fox said people noticed the downed power line and called it in.

“The crews knew, with this wind, the fire would really spread fast,” he said. “If it had been at night, it could have burned longer before we got the jump on it.”

Another, smaller fire also was in the area, and Fox said it “absolutely could have been caused by embers” from the Printers Row fire carried by the wind.

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He said all the rain this spring has caused the grass to grow tall, and then when the wind dries it out, it creates a serious fire hazard.

He advises anyone who sees a grass fire to call 911 and get away from the fire. It can spread a lot faster than a garden hose can put it out.

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