Friday, December 5, 2008

Utah: Dewey Bridge fire

On April 6, two boys playing with matches started a fire that destroyed a historic bridge near Moab, Utah. Wildfire Today covered this in April, but here is an excerpt from an article in the Grand Junction Free Press with some new information:
The bridge, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was totaled. No value of the bridge was available, but a 1996 cost analysis to restore it was estimated at $530,000.

The day of the fire, the family, which consists of the man, his wife and their two sons, age 6 and 9 at the time, and their two dogs had been hiking around Fisher Towers. They stopped at a camping area to let the dogs cool off and play in the river.

The father said the boys had been skipping rocks in the river, and then got bored.

“They were just running back and forth behind us (away from the riverbank) chasing each other,” the father said. His wife suddenly noticed the boys became quiet.

And just then, the youngest came running out of the brush toward his father, saying he and his brother had lit a fire by rubbing sticks together.

“I could tell he was very concerned about it,” the father said.

Initially, the father thought his son was playing an April Fool’s Day joke on him.

“He said no,” the father said. “We could tell how concerned he was. I could see the expression on his face.”

By the time the father reached the fire, it had rapidly climbed tamarisk and oak brush.

“I didn’t have anything to stop the fire. It was so dry and windy, I couldn’t get it out,” the father said.

This week, the BLM’s State Fire Trespass Coordinator Deb Hamill said the agency’s investigation is ongoing. Hamill said the incident is “under litigation,” but no civil lawsuit has been filed. “We’re still waiting for information. We can’t determine which way we’re going to go with it.”

“We’re still waiting for some documentation to come in,” said Hamill.

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