Ogden residents awoke to a smoky scare on Tuesday morning

Jul 3 2012 - 10:37pm

OGDEN -- Toni DeHerrera was making coffee Tuesday morning when she saw the smoke outside her kitchen window.

Then she saw her neighbor with his garden hoses spraying his fence and backyard.

DeHerrera was waking up her husband shortly thereafter, around 6:30 a.m., when a policeman pounded on their door, telling them to evacuate.

The DeHerrera home was one of 40 to 50 homes evacuated, after a fire that started at the mouth of Ogden Canyon climbed up the hillside toward homes.

"He said, 'Get out,' and as we were trying to get our stuff, he said, 'Come on, come on, you don't have time to bother with anything,' " Toni DeHerrera said.

The DeHerreras have lived on 1350 South for 25 years and have never had to leave their home because of a wildfire.

When they returned a few hours later, their home was one of the few that was damaged.

"Our windows have cracked," DeHerrera said as she pointed to the side of her home where the fire had burned a pine tree, a wood fence, a barbecue and the landscape border. It also melted the siding and rain gutters.

The fact that her home was not burned to the ground "was like a miracle," she said.

DeHerrera was not alone in her evaluation of how fire fighters and police handle the early morning fire.

Niki Tonks, who lives two homes to the south of DeHerrera, said, "We're so, so, lucky."

"Those (firefighters) were amazing," Tonks said about the battle to quench the flames.

Tonks saw the flames from her bedroom window when she was getting ready for work. She decided on her own to get out.

"I grabbed my son; he grabbed his lizard and our cat and we left," Tonks said.

Before an evacuation was mandatory, her husband returned home long enough to turn on the sprinklers in their backyard in an effort to protect a tree and their wooden deck.

"We're really lucky that tree didn't go," Tonks said, standing next to a tree that brushes up against the wooden deck. "If it went, our house would have been gone."

Jerry Wilkinson, who lives several houses to the east of the DeHerreras, said he was outside when he first smelled smoke.

He walked to the back of his home, and that's when he saw the flames coming over the hill.

"I called 911 and they said fire engines were on their way," Wilkinson said.

He got out his garden hoses and poured water over his and his neighbor's fence. His neighbor is on a vacation.

Then crews told him and his family they needed to leave.

He and his family watched the firefighting efforts from the lawn of the neighbor across the street.

"The crews did an outstanding job keeping that fire from our homes," Wilkinson said.

Sherry Fronk and her 74-year-old mother, Shirley Fronk, live in the Canyon Terrace Condominiums.

At 6:30 a.m. police pounded on their door telling them they had just minutes to get out.

"I grabbed my mom, my bird, the painting off the wall and filled up my car as fast as I could," Sherry Fronk said. "The smoke was so thick you couldn't see. The fire was in the field next to us, but it felt like it was on top of us."

Wearing just their pajamas, the two women headed out when Sherry Fronk decided to call her work to let them know she may not be in. She turned east on 1350 South and pulled into a driveway to make the call. Then she saw fire engines behind her and crews pulling out fire hoses.

"We were trapped," Sherry Fronk said. "We couldn't turn around."

Both women said as they drove away from their condo, they kept thinking about what they should have taken. They both wished they had grabbed a bottle of water on their way out.

"We should've had a plan," Sherry Fronk said. "It was so hot, from the heat from the flames. You're so disoriented and you see those flames -- they were so big."

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