National Guard helps battle Utah wildfire
herriman, utah — The National Guard joined forces with firefighters Tuesday to battle a fastmoving, wind-driven blaze that the Guard ignited during a machine-gun training exercise.
Utah Army National Guard Gen. Brian Tarbet has said he was “deeply sorry” about what he called a “systematic failure” at Camp Williams, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.
The commander accepted responsibility for the wildfire sparked Sunday that destroyed three houses, damaged a fourth and forced the evacuation of more than 1,600 homes.
Officials said that 450 of the homes remained evacuated.
Tarbet said no one had checked to see that the National Weather Service had posted a “red flag” highwind warning before the machine-gun exercise was permitted to continue in tinderdry conditions in the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains.
He also said Guard commanders waited two hours to call outside fire agencies for help.
Guard Lt. Col. Hank McIntire said those responsible would be held accountable.
The Unified Police Department, an agency overseeing Salt Lake County, is enforcing an evacuation order for parts of Herriman, a community of about 18,000 residents at the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley.
“We understand the frustration and how inconvenient it is to be forced from your home,” Police Lt. Don Hutson said.
With high winds predicted Tuesday afternoon, seven bulldozers, five aerial tanker aircraft and four National Guard Black Hawk helicopters were supporting more than 500 firefighters and guardsmen cutting fire lines.
CLOSE CALL: This home escaped damage by the fire ignited by National Guard machine-gun training.