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Fire in Riverdale started by 19-year-old man, officials say

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RIVERDALE — A fire in northern Utah is nearly contained, thanks to the efforts of neighboring fire departments.

The fire was started Wednesday on the Weber River Parkway near 3750 South and 600 West.

Authorities first thought the fire was started by a group of children, but they have now determined the cause of the fire was a 19-year-old man showing younger teenagers how fast cottonseed burned. He lit some on fire and dropped it when it burned his hand. The fire spread from there, said Riverdale Fire Chief Roger Bodily.

The man ran away after the fire started, but police were able to track him down. It is unclear if he will face charges as police are still investigating the case.

No houses were involved, and no evacuations were ordered, but several residents of homes along the edge of the fire took precautions and evacuated on their own.

"We started spraying the trees (with water) in the back," said homeowner Dan McCallister. "You can see right there how close it got."

McCallister said the fire came within 10 feet of his fence.

"I could see it traveling up and over the trees and onto the house. That is what I was really worried about," McCallister said.

Homeowner Thomas Montez said the fire was also too close to his home for comfort.

"The entire woods were on fire. The trees back there are probably 60 feet tall, and the flames were as tall as the trees — bright orange — and they grey smoke was just pumping like crazy," Montez said. "It makes your heart thump pretty good."

"The firefighters did an amazing job trying to keep it away from the homes," Bodily said.

Bodily said the fire burned nearly five acres, including an extensive stretch of the Riverdale Trail and a large bridge. But as of about 6 p.m. Wednesday, the fire was 85 percent contained.

Bodily said crews from Ogden, South Ogden, Roy, Weber and South Weber all responded and worked to contain the flame.

Cottonseed has already been a problem this fire season, and once on fire it spreads quickly.

"It can carry the fire multiple directions at the same time. It just goes wherever the cotton is," Bodily said.


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Amanda Taylor and Andrew Adams


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