Orem Bog Fire
Bog fire causing stink in Orem
It's not the sewer plant and it's not lake stink.
That big ol' smell is from a small agricultural burn that was started near 1500 South and Geneva Road last week. The fire spread to peat several feet under the soil.
The fire's stench may be causing a few hundred thousand people to press firmly on each side of their nose, but it poses little health hazard. Individuals who are susceptible to asthma or other respiratory illness or allergies will want to limit their exposure by closing windows, wearing a mask or even leaving the area if possible, according to the county health department. Exercising outside is also a bad idea.
The surface burn was started on Thursday, but by Tuesday it was deep into the ground. Peat is made up of partially decomposed plant material that spreads quickly in damp areas, such as the area by Utah Lake. This year's drought conditions dried out the peat, making it highly flammable.
Fire crews are dumping thousands of gallons of foamy water on hot spots to put it out, but it's slow-going because it has to penetrate at least 3 feet into the ground to reach the peat.
"How deep it is, I don't know," said county fire warden Delbert Jay as he surveyed the burn Tuesday.
Local fire agencies have gotten calls from Utah Transit Authority bus drivers and local schools, including UVSC, complaining about the smoke and smell.
Wallace Johnson said he's burned that particular field almost every year for the 65 years he's worked the land, and this is the first time the peat has caught fire.
Though there were crews on the fire Tuesday, there's no guarantee that the fire will be out anytime soon, Jay said. A similar burn, minus much of the smell, burned for four months earlier this year.
The best bet?
"Wait for snow," Jay said.
Temperatures reached 60 degrees on Tuesday, and the National Weather Service doesn't predict snowfall in the area in the next seven days.