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Two weeks later, victims of Rose Crest Fire still cleaning up

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HERRIMAN — It's been two weeks since the Rose Crest Fire began. Homeowners are still cleaning up and recovering from it, a process some say could take years.

The view from Tim Cherry's home is now a black and charred mountainside where once there was a beautiful scene. He thought his home would become part of that desolate landscape, but he, his wife, and their three dogs still have a home that's standing.

"The fire actually burned right up to the foundation, you can see it charred the porch railing," Cherry said.

Two weeks after the fire tore through the area, his home still smells like a campfire.

"It's like a bad campfire the morning after and it's throughout the house," he said.

For Cherry, last month's Rose Crest Fire seemed to be entirely haphazard and unpredictable. He can't explain why his house wasn't consumed by the flames. His fifth wheel trailer burned to the ground, But his truck, parked in front of it is still drivable, though the fire "melted the front."

The shingles on the home are damaged and some windows are cracked, but the house never caught on fire.

"The windows were all open and the wind was so hard you can see these trees burned," he said. "These were actually blowing against the house and the fact that it didn't leap inside is unbelievable."

He says cleaning and recovery will be a long, arduous task. Duct work needs to be cleaned. So does the carpet and walls in his home. His insurance is taking care of it.

Though it seems a miracle spared Cherry, four homes were destroyed in the blaze, which was started by a car fire. In what's been an explosive 2012 wildfire season, the state has had nearly 500 fires so far and most of them were human caused.

Wildfires like the Rose Crest Fire are what prompted a warning from Governor Gary Herbert last month: If you start a fire, expect to pay big for it. In the past 17 years, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah has collected nearly $17 million from people and groups who started fires. But the reality is only a small number of human-caused fires each year are pursued for recouped costs.

Tim Cherry says he's all for accountability, if negligence is involved.

"If they had tossed a cigarette into the dry grass, that's negligence. If you park your car on a patch of dry grass, it's probably not negligence," he said.


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Sandra Yi


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