Thursday, Aug 6th at approximately 1:30pm, Garland Fire Department along with Snowville Fire Department, were paged out to respond to a grass fire in the Hansel Valley area. On initial call the fire was reported to be about 5 acres in size, with dense black smoke. There were a couple of houses roughly 1 mile north of the fire, and the fire was being pushed by heavy winds from the south. Garland responded with 2 Box Elder County Brush trucks and a Water Tender and 7 firefighters. With Garland being the first on the scene, we reported a well established wildfire in Juniper stands and heavy Cheat-grasses. Winds were out of the south with gusts at 35-40 mph and we reported 20-30 foot flames from the Juniper and Sage Brush stands. Shortly after Garland and Snowville was on scene and established an initial attack plan the Box Elder County Fire Marshall arrived on scene and paged additional fire units from all over Box Elder County to assist with the fire fighting efforts. Some units were already on a fire that had started earlier that morning in the Promontory area.
At it’s peak on Thursday, 35 volunteers were on the fire with 6 brush trucks, 3 water tenders a dozer and a grader. A couple structure engines were brought in to protect the houses close to the fire also. By 7pm crews felt the fire was well contained and under control. However, the wind shifted 180 degrees in less than 1 minute with gusts again up to 30 mph. It didn’t take much for the fire to jump the lines and make a fast run to the south. Crews scrambled to gain control of the fire again, and finally at roughly 1 am the fire was once again, contained.
Friday morning Garland along with 3 other departments were paged out again to mop up the fire and ensure the fire was 100% contained. 25 personnel were on the fire Friday for about 12 hours soaking down hot-spots. Friday brought a few spot fires well within the containment area, but it goes to show what the smallest ember can do left unchecked. The fire burned 1370 acres. The fire was started by lighting that moved through the area Wednesday night.
Up until this week the wildfires in Box Elder County have been kept in check. But with the wet spring the grasses are about a foot higher this year, this makes for hotter, faster moving fires. We’ve been lucky that the only thing we’ve been missing so far, is the lightning, up until Wednesday evening. Fire conditions are prime, so remember to use care if you find yourself in unestablished areas. A hot vehicle or a cigarette thrown from a vehicle will easily ignite the dry grasses.
-Steve H, Contributor – GCFD
Images courtesy of Rob Johnson – GCFD.