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Sparks cause 2 Utah County fires

SHARE Sparks cause 2 Utah County fires

Sparks from construction work started two fires Thursday afternoon, destroying a $40,000 barn in Mapleton and scorching a hillside in Provo.

Mapleton fire crews responded to a call about 2:30 p.m. to find a barn engulfed in flames and a neighboring hillside blackened.

The fire started when construction crews tried to cut a lock in a grassy area below. Sparks from the equipment jumped to the dry brush and quickly climbed the hillside near 1500 W. 2000 North in Mapleton, said Mapleton Fire Chief Derald Olsen.

From the hill, flames jumped onto the barn and enveloped the two-story, 1,200-square-foot building in Kent and Doreen Snyder's front yard.

"We called it a barn, but it looked as nice as any house," Kent Snyder said as he watched fire crews from Mapleton, Springville and Utah County pull down the charred remains.

Kent Snyder and his three boys built the barn themselves, and Doreen Snyder said she had just put curtains and carpet in two days ago.

The Snyders lost woodworking equipment, family storage and two grow boxes of vegetables on the south side of the barn.

"It's just stuff," Kent Snyder said with an optimistic smile. "The really bad part is I lost the vegetables. I won't have green beans, (and) my onions are singed. You can replace stuff, but you can't replace vegetables."

Snyder said he appreciates the prompt response from construction workers who called 911 and later told fire officials the sparks were from their work.

Fire crews planned to remain on scene into Thursday evening to pull down the building and make sure all of the hot spots were gone, Olsen said.

"It doesn't take much to spread so fast," he said.

Olsen reminded those working with equipment to be careful of seemingly innocent sparks, which quickly can turn into flames, especially in such dry summer heat.

That was the same message from Provo Deputy Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann, who responded to the Provo fire around 2:20 p.m.

An employee of Stadium Terrace Apartments was cutting down a metal light post when sparks ignited the dry hillside near 1960 N. Canyon Road.

"The conditions are such that it doesn't take much for a grass fire to start," Kuhlmann said. "Be careful working around dry areas that have dry brush. Make sure you have enough of a fire suppressant to control any fires that may start."

Grass and trees on the hillside — just north of LaVell Edwards Stadium — were singed, and flames came within 20 feet of an unoccupied home.

The fire on the now-blackened 3/4-acre lot was controlled within 10 minutes, but a 13-man crew was still working on hot spots at 3:30 p.m.

"Putting a fire out doesn't take long at all," Kuhlmann said. "Overhauling takes the most time."

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com; jpage@desnews.com