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Residents prepare for potential mudslides following Draper fire

By Sandra Yi | Posted - Aug. 14, 2011 at 5:29 p.m.


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DRAPER -- A field fire in Bell Canyon burned several acres on the foothills near Draper homes Saturday night.

Officials said the fire burned about 65 acres and was human caused. Nearly every fire station in the Salt Lake Valley responded to the fire, working into the early morning to contain the flames. But now, nearby residents have to deal with the consequences.

The fire is expected to be fully contained by 6 p.m. Sunday and Draper Police and Public Works officials are keeping their eye on the area. Sandbags have been prepared for residents to keep homes safe from potential mudslides.


When it started, we were pretty nervous because it spread so fast. It was pretty intense. Once it started flaring up, it spread pretty quickly.

–Katrina Berger


"When it started, we were pretty nervous because it spread so fast," said resident Katrina Berger. "It was pretty intense. Once it started flaring up, it spread pretty quickly."

The charred hillside shows how dangerously close the flames came to the nearby homes. But despite voluntary evacuation orders, the Berger family stayed put.

"I just put stuff in our car just in case," Berger said.

But to their relief, firefighters had most of the fire put out before it could damage homes. But with the fire almost contained, the Berger's have another concern: the threat of mudslides and flooding.

"(I'm) a little more concerned about the mud flow coming out of the ravine," said James Berger.

In 2008, a similar fire burned Corner Canyon, destroying nearly 300 acres in the same area. That fire left the hillside barren. The following year, the fragile soil flowed down the hill.

Concerned about a mudslide happening again, Draper City has left piles of sandbags at the equestrian center and in front of homes near the burn area for homeowners to build a barrier around their homes. The Berger's put them along a nearby ravine, which flooded last year after a heavy summer rain.

"I think the sandbags are sufficient to keep it out of the yard. At least, that's the hope," James Berger said.

As an added precaution, silt fencing has been installed along the hillside to catch flowing debris. The city has also built drainage areas to channel water on the hillside and has planted new vegetation.

Anyone who sees movement on the hillside is asked to call 911 immediately.

Email: syi@ksl.com

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