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Herriman • At least four homes were destroyed overnight in the 3,500-acre fire in Herriman, city Mayor Josh Mills confirmed at a 5 a.m. news conference Monday. Mills said that 1,500 families were still misplaced.
Mills toured the evacuated areas overnight, accompanied by other state officials, including Gov. Gary Herbert.
150 firefighters from the Unified Fire Authority and other county fire departments were taking part in the effort. In addition to 120 Utah National Guard members and about 100 police officers from various agencies, Herriman officials said.
There were no reports of injuries among Herriman residents.
83 displace residents spent the night at Herriman High School, which was used as temporary shelter.
The city was posting Twitter updates on new developments; information also was available at the hot-line number, 801-446-5323.
Schools closed for the day included Herriman High, Ft. Herriman Middle School, Herriman Elementary, Butterfield Canyon Elementary, Foothills Elementary, Silvercrest Elementary and Providence Charter School.
As of Monday morning, officials have not determined the containment of the fire. They said the fire got so dangerous because of the strong winds. They expected more windy conditions Monday as well as a cold front moving in but had no exact forecast at the moment.
"It was an awesome sight of fire, it's very intimidating if you get close to it," said Herriman City Councilman Matt Day.
When asked to describe the damage he saw, Councilman Matt Robinson said,"In some cases, total destruction."
Melissa Kula said she and her husband packed their car while they watched flames rise over the ridge behind their home on Muirwood Circle. When they pulled away at 8 p.m., flames were almost to their backyard.
"I'm devastated, to say the least," Kula said, tears welling in her eyes. Her family had lived in the home since June. As of Sunday night, she assumed it had burned.
Authorities could not confirm which or how many houses had burned Sunday night. "Upwards of 100," homes were in jeopardy, said Unified Fire Authority Chief Michael Jensen.
The blaze started during a National Guard training session when a spark from a soldier's round ignited dry brush, said Utah National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Hank McIntire.
"They knew immediately and they got on it right away," but did not have enough manpower and equipment to contain the fire, McIntire said.
From Camp Williams, the fire moved into Arnold's Hollow of Rose Canyon and jumped over a dirt road that had previously acted as a barrier on Camp Williams' northern border at Black Ridge, said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Brad Taylor. Bulldozers were digging up fire breaks to the fire's east to keep it from spreading into the valley, but Taylor said they would not be effective until the winds die down.
"Once you get one ember across, it is a whole new fire taking off," Taylor said. Winds were expected to subside to 20 mph by morning.
"We are expected to have winds throughout the night fueling this fire and continuing to push it through," Taylor said.
Early Sunday evening, the fire was estimated to have burned 300 acres, said Jason Curry spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. By the end of the night, responders had no way to view the fire's boundaries.
"The smoke has made that pretty much impossible," Curry said.
Thirty local fire and medical vehicles were dispatched to the fire, with more than 100 crew members. The Utah National Guard sent 124 troops and three Blackhawk helicopters to dump water on the fire, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration announced it will pay 75 percent of the state's firefighting costs.
"Everything that can be done is being done right now," Gov. Gary Herbert said.
As of Sunday night, no serious injuries were reported from the fire. Two officers suffered smoke inhalation, Taylor said. A third suffered minor injuries in an auto crash and a fourth person was bit by one of the dozens of horses that were evacuated, a massive operation in itself.
Joe Mayer's horses, Red and Paint, were too spooked by the fire to load into his trailer, so he walked them to Butterfield Park, where the city was stabling scores of horses. Hooves clanked against the pens as whinnies echoed in the stalls.
Less than an hour after Mayer arrived, the fire raged closer and the horses had to be moved to South Jordan. Mayer led his horses away on foot.
"I wanted to get them out of there as soon as possible," he said. "I wanted them to be safe."
But many other residents could be seen rushing toward, rather than away from the fire.
"We had a lot of problems with people trying to get into the [restricted] areas, cars blowing past police roadblocks," Hutson said.
Late in the night, officials turned to Twitter to implore the public to stay away from the fire, noting it was extremely dangerous even for trained responders.
"We had reports from one officer who was out evacuating some homes, who ... literally had to run because the fire was coming upon him so quickly," Taylor said.
For those who stayed away, there was little to do but wait for news and tally losses in theory. Merlynn and Lisa Anderson moved into their home in The Cove subdivision less than a month ago, and most of their valuables were stashed in a hodge-podge of boxes when deer came scrambling down the mountain and flames crested the ridge.
As their 5-year-old daughter burst into tears, they grabbed the few photos and documents that were in arms reach before driving to the shelter.
Once there, Lisa Anderson held her puppy, Yoyo, and pleaded to officials at the door.
"Please save our home."
Tribune reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report.