Utah Controlled Burn Destroys Home

MINERSVILLE, Utah (AP) -- Beaver County Sheriff's officials believe firefighters were wrong to start a controlled burn that ended up destroying the home of an 83-year-old woman.

The National Weather Service had issued warnings about winds between 24-45 mph before Wednesday's burn, which spread and destroyed the home of longtime resident Eleanor Craw, sheriff's Sgt. Dave Mott said.

``We believe the burning was reckless,'' Mott said.

Volunteer firefighters from the Beaver County Fire District No. 2 left the site of what was supposed to be have been a controlled burn of weeds at Craw's house, then flames spread to the two-story home, Mott said.

Fire chief Les Whitney said the five firefighters involved were unaware of the red flag warnings, which he said were not a normal occurrence in that area. Nevertheless, he said, ``they should not have done a burn.''

``Did the firefighters screw up? Most definitely and they know it and they're sick over it,'' Whitney said.

The flames were out when the group left the site, but wind must have carried a hot ember to a shed about forty feet from the house, he said.

The department would make sure Craw, who is staying with her daughter, would be taken care of, Whitney said.

The challenge now, he said, is to keep up morale within the group of 26 firefighters so that the volunteers won't get frustrated and leave.

``If we run them out of here, who suffers in the long run?'' he asked.