A wind-driven wildfire had already burned one home and forced the evacuation of 3,100 others on June 28 when a Utah sheriff’s deputy noticed a concerning development near the fire’s south end.
What looked like a flare-up or even a back-burn started by firefighters caused Utah County Sheriff’s deputy John Thomas to radio into dispatch after 9 p.m.
“Can you confirm with fire and see if they have people just south of the Knolls Fire that just started a new fire?” Thomas could be heard questioning in a police radio recording from that night. “Just had a large flare-up with a couple individuals running away.”
On Monday, the sheriff’s office circulated videos, pictures and police radio recordings from what became the second fire that night burning near Saratoga Springs.
It became known as the Mile Marker 17 Fire.
Sgt. Spencer Cannon said when Thomas learned that there were no firefighters in that area, he drove closer and intercepted a man and woman who were apparently fleeing from the flames.
“They had driven off-road in an apparent effort to get around the road closure and get back to Saratoga Springs,” Cannon said. “They had cut through a fence and driving along they essentially had a crash. They went down into a ravine, got the truck stuck, the truck started to leak gas and it caught fire, and that’s what started the fire there that this deputy had seen.”
Cannon said that the woman had significant injuries.