Facebook Twitter



The parking stalls in front of Crompton's Cafe are full again.Bicyclers can be seen straining to push their 10-speeds and mountain bikes over the next hill.

A woman feeds her dog while a neighbor inspects the flower bed next to the walkway.

And for one family, the old saying "No news is good news" has proved itself true, as life is returning to normal in Emigration Canyon.

Roger Meyer spent the weekend with his family at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes near Eureka, Juab County, unaware of a raging fire that could easily have burned his home.

He saw fire engines racing toward the canyon as he was leaving town Friday afternoon. "I didn't think too much about it. I thought it was probably up by East Canyon."

But as things returned to normal Wednesday, there are reminders of the four nightmarish days and nights that forced some 80 families to wonder if their upper canyon homes could survive Friday's raging wildfire that forced the families to evacuate.

A smoky haze lingers as the aroma of burned trees and foliage wafts down the hillsides. Fire trucks remain at strategic points along the canyon road. Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs stop cars and scan identification cards.

These reminders, along with the charred hillsides, the red stains of fire retardant on the roads and the bulldozer tracks and cuts along the firebreaks, will be there for a few more days as crews mop up the remaining hot spots.

Gone are the twice daily meetings at Camp Kostopulos where residents gathered to learn the fate of their homes. Gone are the tensions between residents and fire officials. Residents had accused fire officials of slow action and insensitivity, and fire officials responded that the residents did not appreciate the heroic efforts of the fire crews. Gone are the gaggles of reporters trying to make sense of the spectacle.

Also gone is the foliage - covering nearly 5,600 acres - that provided cover and food for wildlife, peace and introspection for canyon residents, and a beautiful vista for the passing motorist, cyclist or jogger.

Small groups of returning residents gathered to compare notes. Some stood on porches and inspected houses; others just talked at the side of the road. One resident took time to thank the line of soot-covered firefighters from around the country waiting their turn at the pay phone in front of Crompton's Cafe. The firefighters, their faces streaked with sweat and ashes, were eagerly calling home - to Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states - letting their families know that they are OK, tired, but OK. Hands were shaken, hugs exchanged and an occasional tear trickled down a cheek.

For the Meyer family, it's time to catch up on the excitement that had been front-page news as they vacationed unaware of the threat to their home.

Meyer's first indication of trouble was when he and his family tried to go home Monday night. He said he did not know how serious the fire was until police told him the road was closed and that no one could get into the Pinecrest or Kill-yon canyon areas.

"I called my dad from the phone booth at Crompton's Cafe, and he told me what was going on," Meyer said. The family returned to the city and stayed the night with Meyer's father.

Upon returning to their home along with other neighbors Tuesday night, Meyer found his house had not been seriously threatened by the fire. In fact, the only casualty was some of the frozen food that thawed out while the power to the house had been off for three days. .