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Nearly a decade after it began, the saga of the Cedar Valley's fissure-afflicted subdivision came to a fiery end this week.
The Cedar City Fire Department burned the Parkview subdivision's sole home to the ground Monday evening at the request of Enoch City. Rob Dotson, the city's manager, said the abandoned property had become a nuisance.
"We don't typically burn houses down," said Mike Phillips, Cedar City Fire Department fire chief. "But since it was Enoch City, we figured we could help them out."
The house had been rendered uninhabitable after the Parkview subdivision went on the market in 2008, just ahead of the U.S. housing crash. Shortly thereafter, Enoch officials discovered a ground fissure running beneath the area, preventing the Parkview's one completed home from being connected to city water and sewer utility lines.
Ground fissures differ from geological fault lines in that they are human-made phenomena, typically caused by excessive pumping of groundwater. The property, which was never occupied, was repossessed in 2013 and eventually fell under city ownership.
Dotson said that after the bank refused to pay demolition costs, the city opted to donate the house to the fire department for training exercises on the condition that firefighters destroy the house when they were done.
Phillips said the fire department spent about a month conducting training exercises in the home before razing the property Monday night.
"We started [the fire] in a couch. We got old couches and chairs from town and put them inside the house," he said, "so we could watch the fire behavior."
And even as it burned, he said, the department took advantage of the opportunity to learn.
"We cut holes, broke every door, breached the exterior walls a lot of skills firefighters don't get to practice all the time," he said.
Jay Eubanks, a Salt Lake City network administrator, said he originally built the home as an investment. Although the house was structurally complete, it was never granted an occupancy permit.
Eubanks, who said he was notified of the home's destruction, called the home's fate "a sad situation."
"We had all kinds of plans for that house," he said. "It was a model home."
Enoch is now in the process of pulling the remaining city-owned utilities out of the subdivision. The roads, Dotson said, will be left in place. A few Parkview lots are still privately owned, he said, and the city is legally required to keep the roads open.
Beyond that, Dotson said, the ultimate fate of Parkview is unclear. There has been talk of abandoning the subdivision. A storm drain pond, meanwhile, is being constructed on a portion of the land owned by the city.
The city hopes to explore whether the properties on the west side of the subdivision those farthest from the fissure might be safe for development.
"But that's pretty expensive," Dotson said, "and we just don't have any money."