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Jordan River grass fire believed to be human-caused


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MURRAY -- A fire broke in out along the Jordan River Tuesday afternoon, threatening a handful of homes near 800 West and 4800 South.

Firefighters were able put out the flames relatively quickly, but not before the fire scorched 10 to 15 acres of grass near the Murray-Taylorsville border.

Investigators say they believe the was human-caused, though they're not sure if it was accidental or arson.

Just after 2 p.m., Murray resident Elizabeth Wild was in her living room and heard her dog barking.

"Maybe a minute or two later, I saw smoke; and it was getting darker," Wild said.

Taylor Romero and Tyesen Larsen were returning home from camping and spotted the flames as they drove through the neighborhood. They called 911.

"I kept telling my friend it was like stuff you see out of movies," Romero said. "We'd never seen anything like that -- the fence is melting and stuff. I had to move my car. I was scared it was gonna start on fire."

Romero and Larsen began knocking on doors of the homes that were bordering the fire to inform residents of what was going on.

"We were telling people to turn on their sprinklers," Larsen said. "We were getting hoses from the neighbors' houses, doing whatever we could to try and do what we could to stop the fire."

Six homes were evacuated, as the flames crept close enough to melt vinyl fences. Those hurried from their homes could only watch.

"Flames were quite high. In the back, the flames were as high as the tops of the trees; but then it jumped into the field," said Sandy Ott, whose home was evacuated.

The flames jumped from Murray to Taylorsville, and multiple fire crews were called to the scene. Fire officials say the brush in the field acted like gasoline -- burning hot and fast.

"You got a lot of that undergrowth that's dried out due to the long winter we had," said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Brad Taylor.

Luckily, damage from the fire was minimal.

"There was no damage to the homes, other than a fence line that was melted because the fire came right up along that fence line," Taylor said.

Once the fire was contained, evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Fire crews say they've done all they can for the night. They plan to return in the morning to continue their investigation.

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Story compiled with contributions from Sarah Dallof and Paul Nelson.

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