911 call from Dump Fire captures target shooter's worry (audio)
The dispatcher asked what started the blaze that would become the Dump Fire in Utah County, which last month forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
The man on the other end of the 911 call, panting as if he was out of breath, paused for a moment then slowly answered.
"Uh. We're up here shooting guns and it started the fire," the man replied.
Utah Valley Dispatch on Thursday released the 911 calls from the Dump Fire. Citing privacy concerns, the dispatch center removed portions of the recordings where callers' gave their names.
The Dump Fire ignited June 21 in dry grass near a landfill in Saragota Springs. It burned 5,507 acres and cost $2.1 million to fight.
The blaze also forced about 2,500 people to evacuate from 588 homes in Saratoga Springs and Eagle and started a debate in Utah about whether to regulate target shooting in one of the driest summers on record. Eventually, Gov. Gary Herbert ordered the state forester to work with counties to decide whether to limit target shooting.
The 911 recordings from the Dump Fire shows that the shooting party knew right away how serious the situation was.
"It's heading for the trees," he said with emphasis. "There's a bunch of dead trees."
Moments later, the caller is struck by the speed of the fire.
"It's now spreading up the hill really fast. Holy s-," he said.
The call ends when the dispatcher had gathered the necessary information and determined that the caller and others in his party were safe.
It wasn't clear Friday whether anyone was pursuing criminal charges or civil damages against the shooters. Fire investigators in Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs have not returned calls seeking comment.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman on Thursday said that police had not referred any case to his office for prosecution.
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