Officials: Utah brush fire may have been arson

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Burnt vehicles and charred debris remain following a fire in Tooele, Utah on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Firefighters contained a blaze fueled by wind that ripped through a Utah trailer park, displacing dozens of people and destroying multiple homes. (Ravell Call/The Deseret News via AP)
Burnt vehicles and charred debris remain following a fire in Tooele, Utah on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Firefighters contained a blaze fueled by wind that ripped through a Utah trailer park, displacing dozens of people and destroying multiple homes. (Ravell Call/The Deseret News via AP)

 

TOOELE, Utah (AP) — Officials were investigating Wednesday whether someone intentionally set a brush fire that destroyed 10 homes in a northern Utah mobile home park and left dozens of people displaced.

The fire appeared suspicious after igniting in a field in Tooele, about 35 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, authorities said. Heavy winds with gusts of 30 to 40 mph pushed the flames north into the mobile homes, destroying 10 of them, Tooele Fire Chief Bucky Whitehouse said.

Only one home was vacant, but officials evacuated neighborhoods and set up a shelter at a nearby elementary school for those who were displaced. The blaze also damaged eight homes and a handful of cars.

Three firefighters were treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation as well as one resident at the scene, Whitehouse said.

About 100 firefighters got the flames under control, and crews were working to extinguish hotspots Wednesday, KSL-TV reported.

Despite initial speculation that fireworks may have sparked the blaze that burned about 30 acres of grass and sagebrush, authorities were investigating it as possible arson, Whitehouse and police spokeswoman Tanya Turnbow said.

Resident Javier Cortez, who has a family of six, told KUTV that he was at home when he smelled smoke and ran outside.

His family tried to use a hose to wet grass around their home but they were forced to run from the flames, Cortez said. Their home of four months was destroyed.

 

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