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Crews respond to ‘human-caused’ brush fire at Marriott-Slaterville homeless encampment

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 26, 2024

Photo supplied, Weber Fire District

Crews respond to a brush fire near mile marker 344 off of Interstate 15 in Weber County on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE — Smoke filled the air Tuesday evening in Weber County just off of Interstate 15 between the 21st Street and 12th Street exits as a brush fire was sparked at a homeless encampment in the area.

David Reed, deputy chief/fire marshall for the Weber Fire District, told the Standard-Examiner that the fire was spotted around mile marker 344 at 5:49 p.m. by an off-duty Utah Highway Patrol officer who was driving on I-15. The officer promptly called dispatch to report the fire.

When crews arrived on the scene, the flames had engulfed a field area that Reed described as being “a couple acres” in size. However, due to the difficult access to the area and the limited water supply, the fire quickly spread to the point that approximately 10 acres of brush had gone up in flames.

Crews from Weber Fire District, Ogden City Fire and Morgan Fire participated in the containment of the fire, eventually surrounding it with brush trucks and preventing it from spreading beyond the wooded area. Meanwhile, a water tender from Hill Air Force Base supplied the brush trucks with water. No structures were affected by the fire.

Reed characterized the fire as being human-caused, and noted that crews prioritized clearing out people who were camping in the area.

“They had to get into that camp,” he said. “They were trying to make sure nobody was down there.”

As of Tuesday night, there was only one reported injury: a person from the encampment who refused treatment. Meanwhile, Reed said fire marshals were interviewing a “person of interest” as part of the ongoing investigation, adding that crews would likely remain on the scene through the night.

“They’ll probably be there all night to make sure that it’s contained. And then the investigators will go back in tomorrow and look for evidence,” Reed said Tuesday.

People who live/work in or were commuting through the area may have experienced power outages as crews worked to contain the fire. Reed said those outages were the result of preventative measures taken by the power company.

“Per protocol, Rocky Mountain (Power) will cut power so that their power lines don’t have any kind of effect on the fire,” he said. “As soon as it’s safe, they’ll turn them back on. It’s just kind of a protocol now. Whenever there’s a fire, they’ll shut them off. Three thousand people lost power.”

Reed added that a homeless encampment in the area had been cleared out weeks earlier, but a number of people had again set up camp.

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