INDIANOLA, Utah — The fire is contained. The smoke is clearing. The devastation remains. The Wood Hollow fire will go down in history as one of Utah’s most frightening wildfires. Fueled by erratic winds, it spread like napalm, destroying 108 structures, including 52 homes, and claiming the life of one person.
From the ashes comes evidence that the fire may have been caused by copper thieves. Rocky Mountain Power reports that copper ground wire was stolen from a transformer in the area, and the resulting short circuit could possibly have triggered the inferno.
This wouldn’t be an isolated incident — copper thieves regularly show a disregard for public safety. They steal copper from railroad crossings across the nation, disconnecting the crossing signals and setting up potentially fatal automobile-train collisions. They destroy crucial transformer wiring, which leads to fires.
Copper thieves often operate within their local area, raising the specter of the Wood Hollow fire being caused by someone from Sanpete County. Hopefully this isn’t the case. It would be a tragic twist in an already heartbreaking story.
The investigation continues. Whether the fire resulted from criminal activity, a careless accident or natural causes, it is a disaster. In a summer of seemingly endless fires that dominate the news cycle, the Wood Hollow fire ranks as Utah’s worst.
But Sanpete County residents are resilient. They are admirably communal and are helping each other rebuild.