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Man braves fast-moving fire to capture dangerous video footage

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MORONI, Sanpete County — When a big wildfire gets rolling, the first thing fire authorities do is try to get people out of the way. However, one man did the opposite to capture the incoming video on his camera, not realizing he would soon have to defend his own home.

KSL does not endorse Zachary Anderegg's tactics with a camera, and police officers and firefighters would undoubtedly object. But his video does give a feel of a big, out-of-control wildfire and an appreciation of how quickly it can blow up into big trouble.

At first, the Wood Hollow Fire did not appear to be much of a fire. Anderegg took a hilltop position with his camera about an hour after it started, comfortably knowing it was burning at least 15 miles from his home.

"I really didn't believe it was going to travel as far as it did," Anderegg said.

The fire barely moved for an hour and a half, but then the wind suddenly spun up to about 30 miles and hour.

"So the wind has totally shifted. It's now coming towards me," Anderegg is heard saying on his camera. "And while I'm not in any particular danger, it actually looks like I am.

And I know you're not supposed to do that, and I'm not advocating doing that. I wanted to get some of this video.

–Zachary Anderegg

"What really sucks is there's a house right there," he continues.

On an ATV, he raced toward the home, only to see a nasty wall of flames: angry, scary and moving fast.

"It's a whole different world in a couple of hours," Anderegg later recounted. "Now I'm actually walking toward the fire. And I know you're not supposed to do that, and I'm not advocating doing that. I wanted to get some of this video."

He continues speaking into his camera, describing the conditions of the approaching fire.

"I can feel the heat from here. This is gnarly," he said. "Wow! I can, like, really feel the heat now. Holy cow!"

And then, as the fire passes by, Anderegg walks into the burn zone and watches the wall of fire from behind.

"Unbelievable — the radiant heat coming off this sucker," he says.

And behind the fire there was a hellish moonscape.


"It's this washed-out sandy sky," he describes. It's got an eerie smell. The sound, it's pretty intense. It's hard to breathe, but it's also exciting."

The fire burned through Saturday night, with Anderegg trying to save his rental home the next day.

"I would cut the trees down, hook them up to my ATV and drag them away from the house," he described.

Sunday night, he and his wife, Michelle, were ordered to evacuate. However, the fire never got closer than a half- mile to their home. The fire stayed on the opposite side of Highway 89, thanks to aerial retardant and hand crew tactics.

The firefighters succeeded, at least in that area.


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John Hollenhorst


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