Fire rages through pasture, homes are spared
September 4, 2009
Four birds that caught fire in a nest Thursday afternoon set a roughly eight-acre pasture ablaze in Silver Creek, firefighters say.
The fire started at about 1:52 p.m., said Scott Adams, an assistant chief at the Park City Fire District.
Nobody was injured.
"The four of them all got electrocuted," Adams said about the small birds. "They hit the ground and it lit right up."
Before the fire, the birds were in a nest attached to an electrical pole near Crescent Drive South.
One bird likely touched a wire causing electricity to flow through all four, Adams explained.
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Equipment installed on newer power lines protects birds from being shocked, he said.
"With these older ones, they don’t have the bird protectors, so that can happen," Adams said.
Firefighters used several engines, brush trucks and one water tender to fight the blaze, said Mark Billmire, a Park City Fire District battalion chief.
Parts of the pasture were blanketed with flame-retardant foam to prevent hotspots from igniting. Firefighters found the burned bodies of the birds near a utility pole at the north end of the pasture.
"That is where it started from," Billmire said.
Meanwhile, Silver Creek resident Jeff Whiting said he was shopping at The Home Depot when he saw smoke.
"At first, you worry about somebody’s house that might be burning," Whiting said.
Houses surround the pasture and to keep the fire contained Whiting said he helped firefighters stretch out hoses.
"The smoke got so thick I just about bailed," Whiting said in an interview at the scene. "You couldn’t see."
Snyderville Basin resident Jen Potter said she was near Interstate 80 when she saw flames.
"It was huge," Potter said. "I was driving by and saw it right when it broke out."
At her neighbor’s home near Whileaway Road, Potter used buckets to soak landscaping threatened by fire.
"We’re trying to get water down on this stuff so it doesn’t flame up more," Potter said. "The smoke was so thick we had to cover our faces with towels."
Dry light grasses fueled the fire.
"Flames race through that, especially if there are any winds," Billmire said.
Park City Fire Capt. Bob Evans praised homeowners who helped stop the blaze.
"The flames were at least six feet," Evans said.
Silver Creek resident Meghan Debruijn said about a dozen of her neighbors called to tell her the field behind her house was on fire.
"This is an amazing neighborhood to live in," she said. "I work out in Kamas. I would never have even known this was happening."
But Debruijn complained that a Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy at the fire was verbally abusive.
"Our biggest concern is how the police and fire department handled the situation," she said. "They threatened to arrest my husband on his own property."
Debruijn said she will file a complaint about the deputy at the Sheriff’s Office.
"I don’t think people need to be treated that way. You don’t need to be threatened to be arrested," she said. "Yelling at you isn’t the right way to handle this."