Payouts in Utah wildfire
salt lake city — The Defense Department is paying homeowners for losses from a wildfire that started at a Utah Army National Guard base and swept into a Salt Lake City suburb, a military official said Friday.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service set up shop at City Hall in Herriman on Friday, five days after machine gun fire at Camp Williams sparked the blaze that destroyed three houses, damaged a fourth, burned down outhouses and torched vehicles.
Claims from about 200 people were being paid “on the spot,” and more claims were being filed, said Utah National Guard Lt. Col. Hank McIntire.
“This kind of government response is unprecedented,” McIntire said. “It’s not what people typically expect from the government. We’re glad to break that stereotype.”
The claims are for fire losses and for expenses from an evacuation that initially kept residents out of more than 1,600 homes, he said.
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.
Tarbet said nobody checked to see that the National Weather Service had posted a “red flag” highwind warning before the machine gun exercise.
Firefighters expected to have the nearly 3,840-acre blaze contained by Friday evening, fire spokesman Jason Curry said.