History does repeat itself. Just ask Philip and Betty Jean Broadbent.
While the Trojan No. 2 fire threatened to bake Little Slide Canyon Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Broadbents were reliving the Sept. 5, 1989, Maple Mountain fire, which covered less ground but led to a nearly disastrous mudslide that splattered their southeast Mapleton home. Flames from that fire also came within 18 feet of the couple's yard."A little of everything was going through my mind," said Philip Broadbent, who is a member of Mapleton's volunteer fire department. "I just kept wondering how much longer this is going to go on."
After moving over from Spanish Fork Canyon, crews from Maple-ton and Utah County aided Philip Broadbent, who sprayed down his lawn. A counterfire was ignited to keep the fire from getting any closer.
Broadbent had nothing but praise for his fellow firefighters, many of whom worked 24-hour shifts while waiting for professional crews to arrive from out of state.
Betty Jean Broadbent joked that the experience was "fun," and said that she and her husband have decided "it's dangerous to live on the side of a mountain."
The Broadbents are hoping this year's fire doesn't result in a repeat of the 1989 mudslide, which was caused when that fire destroyed much of the groundcover on Maple Mountain. Two heavy rainstorms hit the area within a four-day period and caused two mudslides.
The first slide - composed of mud, ash, silt, coarse gravel and some burned logs - poured into a pasture at the base of the mountain just 12 days after the 1989 fire. It crossed 1600 South in Mapleton and spilled into the Mapleton Canal, narrowly missing some residences.
The second wasn't quite so benevolent.
Betty Jean Broadbent recalled being awakened at about 2 a.m. by a neighbor's phone call. An hour later, waves of mud and water - some as high as 6 feet - crashed through a chain-link fence and splattered the Broadbents' home, leaving eight inches of mud and water in the family's living room, study and garage as well as two feet of debris on the road in front of the house.
Although there was no structural damage to the home, the slide did cause $4,000 to $5,000 damage. The Broadbents had no flood insurance then, nor do they now.
"Whatever happens happens," she said. "But never in our minds did it occur to us that this might happen again."
The two say they are breathing a little easier because the U.S. Conservation Service and Mapleton City paid for the construction of a berm, a reservoir located at the base of the mountain. That berm is expected to prevent any slide from creeping towards the Broadbents' home.
"It's eased our minds a little," Philip Broadbent said.
Along with neighbors, the Broadbents also are hoping to provide a line of defense with sandbags.
"We've talked with some of our neighbors about doing it," said Betty Jean Broadbent, "and hopefully that will help, too."