Story and photo by Paul Christiansen
HYDE PARK — A steady stream of emergency lights lit up the eastern foothills as the sun went down in the valley Sunday night.
“We had an officer out on regular patrol,” said Chief Kim Hawkes of the North Park Police Department. “He observed what he though was a structural fire — a shed engulfed in flames — at 875 E. 200 South.”
The patrol officer paged out to local dispatch, Hawkes said, and called for reinforcements from the Smithfield Fire Department and Cache County Emergency Medical Services Authority.
One neighbor, Karla Axtell, said seeing the approaching fleet of emergency response vehicles made her feel uneasy at first.
“We saw the fire trucks coming up the hill but they began to slow down, like they were going to turn,” she said. “That made me quite anxious because our home nearly burned down a few years back in 2005.”
The situation could have been much worse, said Smithfield Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Hunt.
“Yes, the structure did burn all the way down to the ground,” Hunt said. “But it was a small structure to begin with. Basically it was a 3-foot by 3-foot chicken coop, 4 feet tall with a tin roof. And it was about 50 feet from any other structures.”
No injuries or fatalities were reported. Even the chickens were lucky enough to survive unscathed, said Axtell.
“It was good that it was raining,” Axtell said. “Everything in the area is dry right now and dead from the winter. It was so windy, it wouldn’t have taken much to spark up the whole hill.”
Axtell praised the emergency officials for responding so quickly. “We ran up to the neighbors’ house and saw all the fire trucks,” she said. “There must have been nearly a dozen emergency vehicles there making sure everything was OK. They got there so fast.”
The fire is still under investigation, Downs said.
“It’s a little early to tell but signs points toward an unexpected electrical fire,” Downs said.