Uintah Highlands neighbors gather at church as houses go up in smoke

Wednesday , September 06, 2017 - 1:02 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

UINTAH HIGHLANDS — Whole families gathered at the LDS Weber Stake Center, 5855 Skyline Drive, Tuesday in support of parents and children whose homes were in danger.

Lisa and Colin Murphy were sure their home on the 6300 block of Bybee Drive was safe because Colin slipped through some back yards to get a close look at firefighters on their deck directing drops of fire retardant near their home.

Lisa Murphy’s mom and dad, Barbara and Kelly Wheat; her sister, Jody Smith of Pleasant View; and her son, Coltin, gathered around her on the lawn on of the church.

“We had a wildfire at our house 12 years ago, so I know what it feels like,” said Barbara Wheat, who lives in Huntsville.

Jim Alvey, bishop of affected Spring Canyon Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he was up early Tuesday to get ready to fly to Columbus, Ohio, for a meeting.

He was aware of high winds early Tuesday and then the sound of fire trucks.

After Alvey canceled his business trip, deciding to conduct business over the phone instead, he spent the day accounting for members of his ward.

He said members of the stake presidency and several bishops from the area gathered at the Weber Stake Center to look out for members.

Those members who were homebound and without transportation received help from ecclesiastical leaders, Alvey said.

Many members of the community initially gathered at the Combe Road Chapel, 6350 Combe Road, where they had a good view of firefighters working on the hill in front of them.

As the day progressed, Alvey said, those onlookers at the chapel were pushed back by firefighters to the Weber Stake Center.

A few dozen people remained at the stake center late Tuesday afternoon, where the building was open to allow for people to use the facilities.

Those who were there mostly said they were staying with family or in hotels for the night, as the evacuation orders for the Uintah Highlands were expected to last through Tuesday night. 

Intermountain Health Care Executive Chef John Miller and prep cook Josh Broadbent dropped off an assortment of fresh fruit, nuts, water and Lagories Pizza. Earlier in the day, Little Caesar’s Pizza was delivered to the stake center.

As the late afternoon wore on, people made their way back to the Combe Road Chapel, where firefighters were allowing them to watch the work on the mountain.

Helicopters dipped into people’s pools in their back yards to drop the water on flames as they arose.

About four dozen onlookers were gathered at the Combe Road Chapel at 4 p.m. Tuesday, even though that building remained locked.

A Red Cross worker circled through the crowd to inquire if evacuated families had any place to stay.


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