Utah County fire investigators say an untended burning barrel and high winds combined to ignite a blaze that destroyed barns and killed four horses and four goats early Tuesday morning.
Fire Marshal Dennis Barker said he understood three goats survived burns, but flames destroyed a number of sheds that, authorities claimed, had been erected without building permits on private property near 1600 S. Geneva Road just outside Orem.
“The property owner had a burn barrel down there, and the guy running the operation left early Monday due to the high winds. It appears he left the burn barrel going, though, and those winds pushed out ashes and combustibles everywhere,” Barker said.
Complicating efforts by Utah County, Provo and Orem firefighters was that the nearest fire hydrant was a mile away. That required water-bearing trucks to travel back and forth from the hydrant during the hour it took to douse the fire, first reported just before midnight.
At one point, two firetrucks became stuck in mud due to heavy rainfall.
Barker said it was unlikely the property owner would be cited. “Citing them for illegal burning, even if we could prove it, would be adding insult to injury after they lost the animals,” he said.
Damage to the structures and livestock topped $20,000, Barker said.
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