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Farmer’s weed fire worries residents

Blaze burns more acreage than intended

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A large fire along the northern shore of Utah Lake in American Fork attracted people, some of whom feared it might be out of control.

A large fire along the northern shore of Utah Lake in American Fork attracted people, some of whom feared it might be out of control.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

AMERICAN FORK — Emergency-crew dispatchers in American Fork were flooded with phone calls just about 1 p.m. Thursday with reports of a large fire burning along the north shore of Utah Lake.

Flames climbed as high as 30 feet and plumes of thick, black smoke filled the air.

As it turned out, the fire had been ignited by a farmer who had received permission from Utah County fire-control officials to burn weeds on his property.

A minor problem arose when winds from the north pushed the blaze beyond the farmer's property, said Kevin Cortez, assistant Utah County fire warden.

The fire scorched about 25 acres along the water's edge before dying out on its own.

There are a few scattered homes to the north of the area, but none were threatened, Cortez said.

A campground on the west side of the lake could have been threatened, officials said, but the winds blew the fire away from there.

Cortez said he can understand the concern of residents who saw the flames and smoke and called 911. "It's a real agricultural area. The farmers there know about these . . . burns. They go through it all the time," Cortez said.

"But Lehi has grown so much recently, and the new people aren't used to it."

The farmer who started the fire was trying to remove weeds covering his property, Cortez said. The weed, when burned, produces hot flames and a thick, black smoke.

Some 20 firefighters responded to the scene and remained nearby for about two hours, until the fire went out.


E-mail: effc@desnews.com