Wind shift reignites Rockport fire, another home succumbs
August 15, 2013
Rockport Estates resident Mike Gray and a small group of fellow evacuees perch on a hill top in Brown’s Canyon overlooking their scorched neighborhood.
"We are living in uncertainty," he said after a roller coaster day of relief and renewed anxiety.
Gray, a homebuilder who has lived in Rockport Estates for 15 years, is grateful that he and his wife Wendy, and their dog are safe. But as the Rockport fire reignited and turned 180 degrees back toward his property on Wednesday afternoon, he fears the worst may be yet to come.
After spending a second night with friends in Wanship, Gray said he regrets not having grabbed more of his belongings when he was allowed, briefly, to return Wednesday morning. At that point, he said, it looked like firefighters had gained the upper hand.
"I feel kind of silly, I didn’t grab my computer, titles to my cars .," he said in retrospect. But at that point, Gray and others were optimistic. "The big thing is you go in all happy thinking my house is safe, then the next day the fire makes a pass all the way around the mountain and comes back," he said.
He knows others have not been as lucky. Like other evacuees, Gray has been driving back and forth between vantage points in Browns Canyon and Wanship to try to keep and eye on their properties through the billowing smoke.
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"We run into our neighbors everywhere and one, she lost her house and her face looked so sad," he said.
As of Thursday morning, Summit County Emergency manager Kevin Callahan said the size of the fire was estimated to be 1,940 acres and was 25 percent contained. The goal, he said, was to reach 50 percent containment on Thursday. But that, he acknowledged is dependent on the weather, especially wind and heat.
Callahan estimated that approximately 150 people had been displaced and while the evacuation orders are still in place for Rockport Estates, Bridge Hollow and Promontory, he said, they hoped be able to allow residents in those sectors that have been deemed safe, to retrieve some additional belongings.
In the meantime, he added, the Red Cross shelters at the North Summit Middle School in Coalville and at the LDS meetinghouse in Trailside are offering assistance to evacuees.
At last count, the Red Cross said it had sheltered one person overnight, and was serving a steady stream of snacks, water and meals. According to a press release, the Red Cross has also partnered with several organizations to take in the evacuees’ pets and other animals.
Callahan added the county is working to set up a multi-agency resource center to connect those who have been affected with other emergency resources.