SWEETWATER COUNTY — At approximately 10:30 last night, Sweetwater County Fire Department, along with the Green River Fire Department, responded to a report of a barn fully burning in the Washam area about two miles north of the state line off of County Road 13.
A Mutual Aid request was received from the town of Manila Volunteer Fire Department in support of the firefighting efforts.
The only access to the ranch is a narrow wooden bridge constructed from an old rail car that is too light for any fire apparatus to cross.
Due to a lack of fire resources, the fire consumed two barns adjacent to a ranch house.
No one was home or present at the time the fire started. The fire was reported by neighbors who saw large flames in the night sky.
The delay gave the fire a head start and everything was consumed upon arrival of the Sweetwater County Fire Department. Resources remained on the scene throughout the night to keep the fire from spreading.
Without fire apparatus, firefighters used hand tools, garden hose and backpack comps to keep the perimeter of the fire in check.
The cause of the fire was the use of a burn barrel earlier in the day by the property owner. The owner left the property and embers from the barrel spread into the nearby dry grass which led directly to the corrals and barns that were consumed by the fire.
The last County Fire resources left the scene at noon today. The debris is expected to smolder for several days due to the lack of water being available nearby to completely extinguish the fire.
Sweetwater County Fire Warden Michael Bournazian said, “It is very important to remind everybody that, until we get the spring rains, our grasses are very dry and receptive to fire and ignition of any kind of source. I urge everyone to use caution and having any kind of outdoor fire or outdoor recreational use of vehicles especially off-road that, until the spring green-up occurs, the grass will ignite and burn.”
The use of burn barrels within Sweetwater County to burn debris is prohibited. Anyone wishing to burn ditches or weeds or any other grass or woody material must contact the Sweetwater County Fire Department well in advance of any plans to burn.
Bournazian explained that this is very important so that the fire department and the dispatch center know when to expect a fire in a particular area. They need to be sure that it will be a safe day to burn. The conditions must fall within the guidelines set by the State’s air quality control division of DEQ.
The residents and visitors of Sweetwater County should contact the fire department at 307-922-5361 for more information on open burning.