Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

Fires break out July 4th

 


The fourth was on fire. The fourth of July in Green River was fairly calm this year, compared to Rock Springs. There were five fire calls to the Green River Fire Department over the weekend, starting with a couple on Saturday afternoon around 4 p.m. with a small brush fire at Scott’s Bottom. At 10 p.m., there was a small fire citing on South Hill and on Blue Rim Road in Jamestown; both put out before firefighters arrived at the scene. Even though this year’s number of fire calls in Green River was relatively low in number, it did rise from last year’s single call on July 4, 2014. And although there were no major incidences in Green River and the surrounding lands this year, the small incidences that did occur could have escalated swiftly.

“When it’s dry like it is now, it doesn’t take very long for something to get started and grow big very fast,” Mike Liberty, assistant fire chief of the Green River Fire Department said. “It’s very, very dry out there right now. We had a pretty wet spell for a while but then when it got hot and with the wind, between the two it dried those grasses out very quick.”

All was fairly calm this year over at the GRPD as well. There were about 25 checks on fireworks done by officers over the fourth of July weekend. They advised the individuals of the city’s fireworks ordinance and administered warnings. No repeat visits were necessary.

“This year was pretty calm,” Officer Luke Benson said. “Officers didn’t give any citations for fireworks, officers contacted residents, gave them a warning, didn’t have to go back to the same addresses. It was a fairly calm weekend as far as that goes.”

White Mountain

It was far from a calm weekend for Green River’s neighbors in Rock Springs though. Their fourth of July was wrought with hazardous fires in and out of town, fireworks related and not. While the typical firework calls went on in town, dispatching the RSPD and Fire District Number One, two fires erupted on White Mountain.

It was dusk when the call came in.

It was a trek to get up the side of the mountain to the fires. Up the side of the mountain the fire trucks went, using a pipeline road.

“There are so many people up there shooting fireworks off. It’s like a little city up there on the fourth of July,” Fire Chief Scott Kitchner of Fire District No. 1 said. “Trying to go up it when people were trying to come down it, making access incredibly difficult for us.”

The two fires on White Mountain were referred to as fire number one and two, in the order they started. Number one burned about 13 acres and number two burned about half of an acre.

A number of departments responded to the scene working together through out the night to alleviate the fires. The BLM, Fire District No. 1 and the Sweetwater County Fire Department were present, while the Farson Fire Department lent the use of their brush fire truck, used for wild land fires. There was a total of eight engines and about 25 fire fighters up there.

Crews were on scene from 8:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. containing and extinguishing the fires, while the BLM left two units on sight through the night to monitor the fires.

“It took until 2 a.m. until we felt comfortable enough to leave and not have to worry,” Kitchner said. “We don’t generally leave a fire until we feel comfortable.”

Crews went back up the mountain at 7 a.m. to complete a mop up on fires hitting hot spots, finishing by noon Sunday.

“It was a pretty bad fourth of July with that many calls within that short of time,” Kitchner said. “It gives us something to go on. It’s only going to get hotter and dryer as the summer goes on.”

The fires started on White Mountain are still under investigation through the Sweetwater County Fire Department, Fire District No. 1, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, and the BLM.

 

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