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Riverdale barn continues to smolder after massive fire; juveniles charged

By Ryan Aston - | May 13, 2024
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A Riverdale barn fire allegedly started by juveniles continues to smolder on Monday, May 13, 2024, days after the structure was engulfed in flames.
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A Riverdale barn fire allegedly started by juveniles continues to smolder on Monday, May 13, 2024, days after the structure was engulfed in flames.
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A Riverdale barn fire allegedly started by juveniles continues to smolder on Monday, May 13, 2024, days after the structure was engulfed in flames.

RIVERDALE — The distinct aroma of scorched materials and waves of smoke continued to emanate from the area near 6080 South Weber Drive on Monday following a massive barn fire several days earlier. The barn became engulfed in flames Friday when a pair of juveniles, who had run away from a local rehabilitation facility the previous day, allegedly started a fire in the structure.

After the fire was sparked, the juveniles reportedly fled north toward Interstate 84. They and the fire were spotted by a passerby, who subsequently reported the incident. Riverdale Police Chief Casey Warren told the Standard-Examiner that officers assisted the Riverdale Fire Department in its effort to control the blaze, and apprehended the juveniles walking along I-84.

The juveniles were admitted to the Weber Valley Detention Center and referred to juvenile court on charges of reckless burning, burglary and vehicle theft, according to Warren.

Per Warren, the juveniles — who were from out of state and had been placed in the care of the rehabilitation facility by their guardians for behavioral issues — did not have a criminal history in Utah.

Meanwhile, the barn had been loaded with a large amount of hay when the fire was started. As a result, the remnants are still smoldering days later, and they’ll likely continue to do so for days to come.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls about this fire,” Warren said. “The fire crews were able to extinguish the fire but hay fires are kind of unique, especially when you have one that’s just full like this. They wetted it down enough where it shouldn’t ignite into flames again but you can almost never put it out.”

Locals are being advised to use their best judgment when evaluating whether to report potential incidents in the area over the next week-plus, as the smoldering continues.

“We want people to call, obviously. But if they understand that that’s going on, they might be able to connect the dots and realize that there’s not an emergency,” Warren said.

In addition to allegedly starting the barn fire, the juveniles reportedly broke into multiple other structures located in the area — mostly outbuildings like unattached garages and barns, per Warren. Dirt bikes were stolen from one of those structures.

However, the owners of the barn got the worst of it.

“That was their livelihood. Those guys, they produce and sell hay,” Warren said. “(The barn) was stacked completely to the ceiling full of hay, not to mention they had their hay baling machine in there, a tractor, I believe, a truck and a skid loader.”

Warren says that between the extensive damage and the lost inventory, the property owner estimates that they have suffered a loss of more than $1 million.

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