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Fire near Alpine likely started by gunfire, mayor says

First Published      Last Updated Jul 16 2017 10:59 pm

Residents allowed to return to their homes after precautionary evacuation; no buildings damaged.

Alpine • After a temporary, early morning evacuation for a wildfire likely started by gunfire, Alpine residents were allowed Sunday afternoon to return to their homes.

Officials had issued a precautionary evacuation of 25 homes at 3 a.m. Sunday after the human-caused Water Tower Fire grew overnight. About 3:45 p.m., officials cleared residents to return to their homes, which luckily had remained out of the fire's path. No buildings had been damaged, according to Shayne Ward, spokesman for Utah's Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

The blaze stood at 505 acres at one point but as of 8 p.m. Sunday, it was 397 acres and 25 percent contained.

About 100 fire personnel were deployed, as well as six fire engines and three helicopters, including a Blackhawk from the National Guard that was dumping water on the wildfire.

Alpine Mayor Sheldon Wimmer told The Tribune the fire is believed to have been ignited from gunfire at a makeshift shooting range people can access from a road in Lambert Park.

An ordinance bars shooting in the city, Wimmer said, but the blaze is on Lone Peak Wilderness Area land, which is part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

He said he plans to ask the City Council on Tuesday to consider barring all motorized traffic on the road heading east through the park toward the shooting range. People still would be able to bicycle, hike and ride horses there, he said.

The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC