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Weather concerns become reality for firefighters near Kaysville

(Credit: Paul Nelson)

DAVIS COUNTY – The dire prediction made by fire officials comes true.  Helicopters, air tankers and many ground crews were sent to Fruit Heights and Kaysville for the Francis Fire, which burned between 100 and 200 acres by five p.m.

Hundreds of people living near the fire came out to watch as it raced across the hills.  Some brought out their lawn chairs and took videos of it as the winds blew the flames north.

One woman says, “At first, they said they couldn’t control anything because it was too dangerous.  Shortly after that, they brought in the helicopters.”

By late afternoon, flames were burning away from the homes, but fire officials don’t expect to lift any evacuations.

Liz Solis with the Davis County Sheriff’s Office says, “We want to make sure that people’s safety is a big priority.  As it gets closer to people’s property, we will go up to them and tell them that mandatory evacuations are in place.  But, if they choose not to leave, they’ll be left to their own means.”

There is a chance that the weather may help firefighters.  Spokesperson Kim Osborn says the winds are expected to shift.

“If that happens, it could shift the winds to a northwestern direction, which will help push the fire back into itself, which is actually a good thing,” Osborn says.

However, there is no guarantee that will happen.  So, people who live near the area are being told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  Jason Curry with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands says winds combined with dry conditions could be a problem all over the northern part of the state.

“With those high winds, any ignition is going to present some aggressive fire behavior, if not extreme,” he says.

The winds are ushering in a cold front, which is expected to bring some rain.  However, meteorologists with the National Weather Service say there likely won’t be enough to dampen the fires.  Curry says it’s hard to know if the storm will help or hinder their efforts.

“It’s a two edged-sword.  The cooler weather moderates fire behavior, but, at the same time, wind is what drives that fire behavior.  So, no matter what the temperature, a 50 mile per hour winds will drive fire through vegetation,” Curry says.