South Jordan Battalion Chief Reed Thompson said the three-alarm blaze started about 4:15 p.m. in the backyard of a home, quickly spreading to a fence and a couple of sheds and outbuildings. He said cotton-like seeds floating off nearby cottonwood trees helped fuel the fire as it burned north and west across the Glenmoor Golf Course, near 9800 South 4800 West.
Across the fairway from Erb's home, Jacob Timothy, 18, was walking to his car from his house near Yorkshire Drive (4180 West) when he saw a neighbor's rosebush was on fire. Timothy grabbed a fire extinguisher to put it out, but then he noticed a much larger fire developing behind the neighbor's house and called 911.
"It was going underneath fences, lighting up everything," said Thomas Seagren, who was with Timothy. Seagren ran to neighbors' houses to alert them and get them outside while Timothy tried to control flare-ups with a garden hose. He said he saw flames approaching his family's shed, which contained fertilizer and gasoline for the lawn mower.
When he looked again just seconds later, "it was totally engulfed," Timothy said.
By the time about 60 firefighters contained the fire about 5:10 p.m., it had damaged six surrounding homes.
Timothy said his neighbor was treated for burns he suffered when he picked up a shovel that had grown hot in the fire. Two other people suffered smoke inhalation, and a firefighter suffered heat exhaustion, said South Jordan Battalion Chief Andrew Butler.
As of Tuesday night, fire investigators were trying to determine what caused the fire, Butler said.
About 20 homes in the area were evacuated, Butler said. Two families remained displaced on Tuesday night.