SOUTH WEBER, Utah, May 6, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The neighbors didn’t call immediately because they thought the residents at 129 E. Harper might be preparing for a barbecue.
The next time anyone in the quiet, upscale South Weber area glanced at the house in question, the smoke was thick and flames were shooting 30 to 40 feet up from the roof.
One home was destroyed in South Weber on Friday afternoon. The houses on either side were damaged, one by flames and one by intense heat. No one was injured.
“Everybody’s fine,” said Thomas Graydon, fire chief for South Weber City. “At about 12:38 p.m., dispatch received a call. We were here nine minutes later, and the house was fully involved, with flames shooting about 30 to 40 feet out of the roof.”
There was no saving the home at 129 E. Harper, which was quickly reduced to charred rubble behind a two-story brick archway that used to stand the height of the house that had been behind it.
So Graydon and his crew ─ along with firefighters from Layton, Riverdale, Uintah and Washington Terrace ─ focused first on the home to the west, and knocked down the flames on the wall that had been facing the raging house fire.
Siding on the house to the east was melted by the intense heat, but Graydon said that residence would be habitable that night. Wiring would be an issue with the house to the west. And there was no more house at 129 East.
“I would put the damage at a minimum of $500,000,” Graydon said.
South Weber is a mix of pastures and upscale homes. Two blocks from where fire crews had gathered, rams butted heads in a grassy field.
Graydon said investigating fires where the home is a total loss is difficult because there is so much debris to examine and remove while you seek the spot where the flames started. He had already checked for planned burns in the area, and no one had applied for a permit, although the house fire had set a nearby field afire.
No one had been home at the time of the fire to act as a witness. Graydon also planned to request a lightning-strike map from the National Weather Service, to see if lighting might have been a factor.
The lightning continued, periodically, as men on fire truck ladders used thick hoses to douse the smoky ruins. The wind picked up, whipping the lilac bushes planted as landscape features. Raindrops began to fall, then pound the assembled crowd. Then came hail, sending bystanders scattering for cover.
“The agencies worked well together to get the situation under control,” Graydon said. “The important thing is no one, no residents or firefighters, were hurt.”