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Top stories of 2013: Fire and floods

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Dec 31st, 2013 @ 7:46am

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SALT LAKE CITY — The year 2013 was a disastrous one for Utah wildfires.

Fourteen homes were lost in the Rockport 5 fire, which burned roughly 2,000 acres in Summit County this past August. Steep terrain and dry conditions made fighting this fire difficult for firefighters.

"There are still several homes that could be threatened and we're looking to place crews and engines and try to take advantage of the mornings before we get the winds and warnings to protect these structures," said Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer.

In all, 300 homes were evacuated for several days. It took about a week for crews to put out the fire.

In September, a fire in Sanpete County forced more than 100 girls to evacuate a popular camping area. The flames and smoke from this big blaze could be seen from surrounding counties.

"I don't think the flames will come over that far," said Spring City resident Darell Olson, "but it'll be good to evacuate the girls because there is danger."

Of course, whenever you have wildfires, you seem to have flooding and erosion issues when it rains. Large boulders fell on the road in Huntington Canyon in Emery County after the Seeley Fire burned through the area the year before.

"It's Mother Nature, and every time we get a little rain, a quarter inch or more, it sends more debris and lots of water down the canyon," said Capt. Kyle Ekker of the Emery County Sheriff's Office.

Alpine residents had to deal with floods this past summer from a wildfire two summers ago. Crews filled sandbags and dug diversion ditches to protect homes.

"If we have the amount of rain we had last night," said Joseph McRae of the Lone Peak Fire Department, "we'll need these sandbags so we can control and direct the water coming out of these canyons."

And sometimes, it just rains so hard that the water has nowhere to go. An ESPN time lapse showed a rainstorm as it came through Provo.

Cars in parking lots were flooded. Several mudslides in American Fork Canyon stranded several people.

In Payson, one street was 5 inches under water with 25 homes flooded. Mayor Rick Moore estimated ten of thousands of dollars in damages.


Alex Cabrero

KSL Weather Forecast