The Moab Valley Fire Department, assisted by a Bureau of Land Management helicopter that was used to drop buckets of water on the flames, was able to “quickly control the fire and keep the area burned relatively small,” according to a news release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
The blaze primarily burned grass and Russian olive trees. No structures were burned. However, the vinyl siding on one home was melted by the heat, according to the news release. Residents in the immediate area were asked to evacuate their homes until authorities determined it was safe to return.
Firefighters remained at the scene throughout the night to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.
Todd and Cathy Beeman were visiting with other guests at a missionary farewell party at Steve Risenhoover’s home Sunday afternoon when Risenhoover, a volunteer firefighter, got called away to respond to the fire. A few minutes later, Risenhoover called his own house and told his sister to tell the Beemans to go home immediately.
“You guys better get home … the fire is right behind your house,” Cathy Beeman said as she recalled the urgent message they were given.
The Beemans drove quickly to their property a couple miles away. “The closer we got, the more nervous we were, because it looked like it was right at our house,” recalled Todd Beeman.
Upon arriving home, the Beemans turned on their sprinklers and grabbed garden hoses to wet down the edges of their property as the flames burned across the road east of their home. Cassy and Colman Swasey, the Beemans’ daughter and son-in-law, arrived shortly thereafter and joined in the effort.
Meanwhile, firefighters from the Moab Valley Fire Protection District and the Moab Interagency Fire Center were already working on scene to contain the blaze and keep it from spreading to the houses along Kerby Lane, as well as along East Bench Lane to the north. A firefighting helicopter was deployed, repeatedly filling its container in a pond at the nearby golf course and dumping water on the fire.
“Fortunately, we have a bit of a green buffer around our house,” said Todd Beeman, adding that if the wind had shifted and burned across the road, it could have burned several homes. “Thankfully, the wind shifted and it blew it back away from the houses,” he said.
“It was scary,” added Cathy Beeman. “But we were really impressed with the response. The firefighters got there quickly and they all did a great job. We were able to sleep well that night knowing they had it under control.”
According to the Beemans, their neighbor Clark Minson was outside working on his air conditioner when he first spotted smoke and flames on an adjacent property and called 911.
The Beemans also had high praise for Rocky Mountain Power crews, who installed a new pole and restored their electrical power by 10:30 p.m. that same night.
Times-Independent reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this story.