A Millcreek neighborhood has a sinkhole and no water after wildfire battle causes pipes to burst
The crews got the fire under control, but then “things just went from there,” says the local resident.
The Unified Fire Authority deployed 40 firefighters and two single-engine air tankers to tackle a forest fire in Millcreek on Thursday, but that was just the start of a hectic night for residents of the Mount Olympus neighborhood.
The fire, which was located at 3600 East and 3000 South near the mouth of Parleys Canyon, burned 2 acres of land but was later contained, officials say. No residents have been evacuated, but officials say the fire threatened several nearby buildings.
Firefighters responded to reports of a fire on a hill east of Interstate 215 around 2:30 p.m. They attacked the fire from the west to prevent it from reaching nearby homes.
Officials say a hiking trail at the top of the hill and water left over from rains last week prevented the fire from spreading further.
The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.
While the fire department was quick to contain the fire, the fire created other problems in the nearby Mount Olympus neighborhood. Resident Richard Williamson left work early when his wife told him about the fire and was relieved when it was under control, but he said, “things just cascaded from then on”.
The fight against the fire on Thursday resulted in two water pipes breaking in the area, one on Teton Road and one on Warr Road. Firefighters used a fire hydrant on the corner of Cascade Road and Warr Road for the fire, Williamson said, and quickly opening and closing access to fire hydrants can cause additional pressure to be diverted into surrounding pipes, officials say.
When water began to splash from the broken pipe on Warr Road and tumbled down the street where Williamson lives, he climbed next to his neighbors to get sandbags and snow shovels to divert the water from a family home on vacation.
“The road has been pushed up in several places,” said Williamson. “It started going down on one side of the street, but then as the street bulged and lifted it started going down on both sides.”
The flood created a four foot by four foot sinkhole in the asphalt of Warr Road that Williamson estimates was about 3 feet deep.
Unified Fire confirmed the damage to the Salt Lake City Department of Water’s main lines, saying the broken pipe did not limit firefighters’ efforts to fight the fire.
Williamson said pipes in the neighborhood break about every three months.
“It’s not an uncommon thing,” said Karen Christopulos, resident of Teton Drive. “We have been here for 40 years and it has happened at least three or four times.”
Williamson said he noticed the onset of flooding when the fire was almost out and the water board stopped the river some time later. Water consumption in the area remains cut off as the crews work late into the night to repair the broken pipes.
“It happens every now and then, and I understand, but it would be nice if Millcreek City and Salt Lake City Water come together and decide on the infrastructure and prioritize where to fix things so these things don’t keep happening to the citizens this area, ”said Williamson.
Williamson is a member of the Mt. Olympus Community Council and says the council will make recommendations to Millcreek City to prevent re-flooding.
“Aqueducts and infrastructure certainly need our attention,” said Williamson.