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Utah National Guard more prepared in ‘high-danger fire area’

Photo image of smoke from the fire at Camp Williams. Photo courtesy of the Utah National Guard.

CAMP WILLIAMS — After a fire scorched 200 acres near a gun range at Camp Williams on Sunday, the Utah National Guard says they took precautions to avoid a larger disaster.

The Oak Springs fire burned about 200 acres when an Army Reserve Unit was training in the .50 caliber range Sunday morning. Public Affairs Officer D.J. Gibbs said it was a low fire danger at the time and “all the conditions were right.”

The wind was blowing, spreading the fire to the west. There were several fire breaks surrounding the range, utilizing large objects with nonflammable materials to block the fire from spreading, Gibbs said. These fire breaks helped the Unified Fire Authority to contain the fire.

The fire was started by a live-fire exercise – the same thing that caused a much larger fire in the same area almost ten years ago. A combination of dry and windy conditions created a “perfect storm” resulting in a 3,500-acre fire, said Gibbs.

That fire is largely why the National Guard was more prepared.

“[That fire] really caused us to look at everything that we have at Camp Williams,” Gibbs said. “Making sure that we have maximized our efforts internally and also working with local communities so that when there is a fire the communication channels are already open.”

At the time of the training, the Unified Fire Authority had three fire trucks already on-site as a precaution. Camp Williams and the surrounding cities and neighborhoods are in a “high-danger fire area” so they prepare for all-fires whenever they are in active training, according to Gibbs.

“Any time you have homes butted up next to one of the largest military installations in the state of Utah where we actively train […] that’s a concern constantly,” Gibbs said. “We’re always working with those communities and those local residents.”