Firefighters battle Spring Lake blaze they started
Date:Sunday, October 27 @ 00:00:30 MDT
Topic:Valley and State

SPRING LAKE --Payson and Salem firefighters fought a blaze Saturday that destroyed a four-decade-old housing complex for migrant workers -- on purpose.

The fire was part of a training exercise for the crews, said Payson Fire Chief Blake Mortensen.

"We did firefighter rescue, fire behavior practice and practice with our new ladder truck," he said. "It worked out to be really good for us."

A crew of 25 worked nearly 11 hours in training and then allowed flames to burn the complex "nearly to the ground."

The burn was initiated after the Utah County Housing Authority invited fire crews to destroy the building. The Housing Authority is in negotiations with Payson to build new housing for the migrant workers.

The dilapidated housing was vacated after Spring Lake residents asked Payson's City Council to allow a new complex to be built within the city bounds, where grocery stores and city services are more readily available.

Spring Lake residents now plan to clear the area where the housing complex was burned to make way for a recreational park.

Caleb Warnock can be reached at 344-2543 or