Photo Credit: Jess Roberts
Town of grouse creek saved, for now
July 30, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Two wildfires that began in Nevada have both joined in Utah, burning over 118,000 acres as of Monday afternoon, destroying tens of thousands of acres of range land that cattle ranchers in Box Elder County depend on to feed their herds.
The Goose Creek Fire began southwest of Jackpot Nevada on Thursday, July 26, the result of a lightning strike. Another Nevada fire, the China Jim Fire, also began by lightning strike on Saturday, July 28, beginning on the northern slope of China Jim Mountain, which is about 13 miles southwest of the unincorporated town of Grouse Creek, Utah.
Box Elder County firefighters were already out battling several blazes, including a 1,241 acre fire in the Raft River Mountains, a 745 acre fire at Monument Peak, an 80 acre fire in the Bovine Mountains, and also mopping up a 1,008 acre fire in Hansel Valley, when the fires crossed the border into the county on Saturday.
‘There were a lot of fires going on, and a lot of resources that were tied up,” said Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton. “And once we were able to get resources cleared, it took a while for them to get here. But we were able to get five dozers, three road graders, and a ton of Box Elder resources.” Those resources came from Box Elder County and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as well as Utah State Lands.
“People need to understand that when we order an engine from Willard, it takes three, three and a half hours to get them out here, because the location is so remote,” he said.
Barton reported that the fires initially crossed into rough terrain that was impossible to get to except by air. By Saturday evening, however, the China Jim Fire had burned through to State Route 30, forcing the road to be closed from nine miles east of the Nevada border, due to heat and visibility issues. The road was re-opened on Sunday morning.
By Sunday both fires had converged into one massive fire burning along the Utah/Nevada border, estimated at that time to be 100,000 acres. The names of the two fires were joined as the Goose Creek Fire. Engines from Garland Fire, Willard Fire and Grouse Creek Fire were deployed to protect structures, and brush trucks from Tremonton Fire, Garland Fire, Honeyville Fire, Box Elder County Fire, as well as Davis, Weber and Cache County were actively fighting the fire, as well as a multi-engine and several single engine air tankers.
When the town of Grouse Creek was threatened, the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department ordered a voluntary, then a mandatory evacuation. As firefighters battled to save Grouse Creek and were able to establish lines around the town, the mandatory evacuation order was lifted.
“The air tankers were dropping right in people’s backyards,” said Barton, about the effort to save the town. “They were literally dropping flame retardant on the back of the houses, trying to protect them from the fire.”
Barton stated that the biggest losses to area residents so far hasn’t been structures, even though three uninhabited structures have been lost. He said the greatest losses to the local ranchers have been in burned grazing land.
“They raise cattle, this is cattle business out here. When we’re burning up all this range land, we’re burning up their summer feed, along with some pretty prime Sage Grouse habitat.,” he said.
The BLM has taken control of fighting the fire, bringing on a level one incident team, which is the highest priority designation. According to the BLM’s incident website, approximately 306 firefighting personnel were actively fighting the Goose Creek Fire as of Sunday night. The fire was listed as 15 percent contained, having burned 118,000 acres, with an expected full containment date of Wednesday, August 8.
Photo courtesy of Stan Summers
Update 7-29-18 8:47 p.m - County fire officials have reported that Grouse Creek residents are now being allowed to return home.
July 29, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Two lightning caused fires that are burning near the Utah/Nevada border have joined together into one large fire that has now burned over 100,000 acres across both states.
Citizens of the town of Grouse Creek, located in the remote northwestern portion of Box Elder County, are being "strongly urged" to evacuate as the fire advances further east.
The China Jim fire started in Nevada on Saturday afternoon, the result of a lightning strike. By Saturday evening that fire had crossed into Utah, forcing the temporary closure of SR-30 from mile marker 9 to the Nevada Border. The road was re-opened late Sunday morning.
The Goose Creek fire also began in Nevada, with lightning igniting desert brush on Thursday evening in an area south and west of the City of Jackpot.
On Sunday both fires combined in Utah, together burning over 40,000 acres in Box Elder County by Sunday evening.
Multiple county and state agencies are fighting the fire, including units from Willard Fire, Corinne Fire, Garland Fire, Honeyville Fire, Thatcher Fire, Park Valley Fire, Grouse Creek Fire, Box Elder County Fire, as well as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Units from other agencies across the state have also started responding.
The News Journal has a conference set up with fire officials for Monday morning, where more information will be given.
Video stills of a robbery suspect who demanded money from the U.S. Bank inside the Perry Walmart just after noon on Thursday.
July 19, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A robbery took place early Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Bank located inside the Perry Walmart.
According to the Perry Police Department, at approximately 12:01 p.m. an unknown man walked into the bank and demanded money from the teller. The man did not display any weapons.
The teller gave the man an unspecified amount of cash, and he left on foot. His direction of travel after leaving the bank is unknown.
Video stills of the suspect from the bank's camera system were made available to police, and were shared with the News Journal.
"If anyone knows the guy, or has seen him, or has any other information, we're asking them to give us a call," said Sergeant Scott Hancey of the Perry Police Department.
Calls can be directed to Box Elder Dispatch at (435) 734-3800, asking to speak with a Perry police officer.
Hancey said the investigation of the robbery is being headed up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) out of the Salt Lake City field office.
50-year-old James John Sever of Oak City is extracted from a ravine by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter on Friday. (Photo courtesy of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department)
July 14, 2018 • Nelson Phillps • Staff Writer
A 50-year-old Oak City man is safely recovering in a Brigham City hospital room after wandering away from his Dock Flat campsite in the early morning hours of July 12.
Dock Flat is located in eastern Box Elder County, between Mantua and Willard Peak.
According to a press release by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department, the man, James John Sever, suffered from "significant medical issues," which caused great concern to his friends and family when he could not be located at camp on Thursday morning.
"The missing male had been reported to have been last seen about 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning in his camp," read the release. "When his friend got up the next morning he could not be located. The friend contacted family and they searched for him during the day but were unable to locate him."
Friends and family of Sever searched the area for most of the day on Thursday, and contacted Box Elder Dispatch when darkness began to fall on Thursday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. A Box Elder County deputy responded and determined that search and rescue needed to be deployed. They arrived in the area about 9:00 p.m.
A grid search was started in the immediate area, and a request was put in to the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) Areo Bureau for helicopter support. Ground and air crews searched until approximately midnight, when the search was suspended until 6:00 a.m. Friday morning.
Shortly after noon on Friday a crew from the Box Elder County Horse Posse located Sever in a deep ravine about a mile southeast of the camp. Sever was given medical treatment and stabilized at the scene by first responders, while a call was placed again to DPS for a helicopter extraction, due to the rough terrain and nature of Sever's injuries.
Brigham City Rescue and Mantua first responders also created a rope rescue line, in case an aerial extraction wasn't possible. DPS was successful in getting Sever out of the ravine, and the rope line was used to get emergency personnel back onto the roadway.
Sever was transported to Brigham City Community Hospital with "non-life-threatening injuries" by Brigham City Ambulance.
In a statement issued Friday night, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department thanked all of the agencies involved in the successful rescue, including Box Elder Communications, Box Elder County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Box Elder County Sheriff's Horse Posse, the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau, Utah Search Dogs; Brigham City Ambulance and Rescue, Mantua First Responders and Mantua Police.
"We live in a wonderful state where all agencies work toward the greater good; life, care and safety of our citizens," read the statement.
Carcasses of dead carp float along an oxbow lake near the Bear River. The major kill event had raised concern by some about water quality in the Bear River, but officials with the Division of Wildlife Resources say low water and heat are to blame.
A large number of dead fish discovered near the Bear River that had some concerned about the river’s water quality is is nothing to raise a stink about, according to the preliminary results of an investigation by the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources.
According to an email composed by Chris Penne, the DWR’s northern region aquatics manager, “One of our Law Enforcement Sergeants is looking into the kill, but it is looking like there is no need for concerns over water quality in the Bear River itself...”
Penne indicated that the fish kill happened in an oxbow lake adjacent to the Bear River called the Horshoe Sloughs, that is not connected the river. While the reason is under investigation, low water levels and heat are the most likely culprits, according to Penne.
“The old oxbow lake appeared to be drained down and the dead fish appear to be mostly common carp, leading us to speculate that the fish may have been deliberately killed as part of a lake/slough renovation,” Penne wrote in the email. “It could also be that the lake was drained down, which allowed it to get too warm and caused the fish to die from the heat and ensuing low oxygen levels (water holds less oxygen when it gets warm).”
While there is no concern over water quality, Penne joked that all the dead fish have had an unmistakable impact on the area.
“...air quality in the local community might be another issue as the smell from all the rotting carcasses appears to be quite potent (LOL).”
July 11, 2018 (Story updated with additional information)
A search for a Perry City man that went missing on Sunday came to a tragic end Wednesday morning, when his body was recovered from the waters of Willard Bay.
The man, identified as Brandon Larsen, 46, is suspected to have been paddleboarding at the bay, possibly drowning when a storm blew through the area on Sunday night..
According to Willard Bay State Park Manager James Morgan, the search for Larsen began on Tuesday morning after park employees noticed a car that had been parked at Eagle Beach since Sunday. Park rangers ran the license plate and learned that the car belonged to Larsen, and that he had been reported missing since Sunday.
A beach chair, sandals, beach towel, and car keys were previously found on Eagle Beach on Sunday night, and were turned into lost and found. On Tuesday park officials confirmed that those keys belonged to Larsen's car.
Larsen is believed to have brought a paddleboard to Willard Bay with him. Investigators have not yet located the paddleboard and are asking for the public’s help in finding it. The board is a Dave Scadden Paddlesports inflatable, Grand Slam model. It is lime green with a white border.
"If anyone has found a paddleboard or may have seen Larsen on the board at Willard Bay Sunday, please contact Utah State Parks. This paddleboard, along with any information about Larsen’s activities Sunday, is important to the investigation," wrote Morgan in a news release.
A multi-agency search was organized on Tuesday, including officers from Utah State Parks, the Willard City Police Department, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department and their search and rescue dive team, as well as the Brigham City Police Department, who provided a command center. Multiple friends and family members also participated in the search.
During search efforts on Tuesday, a cell phone belonging to Larsen was found floating in a dry bag.
Larsen was located in the water at approximately 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and his body was soon after recovered.
"He kept a life-jacket on his paddleboard, but he was not wearing it," said Morgan to the News Journal on Wednesday morning. "We know that he went out paddleboarding on Sunday night, and there was a storm that came through on Sunday night."
Utah State Parks is currently investigating the death as a drowning. As part of the news release, the agency asked "everyone to always wear your life jacket when out on the water."
In a statement released Wednesday, Larsen's family expressed their appreciation for all of the agencies and people involved in the search, and have asked for privacy.
July 10, 2018 • Nelson Phillps • Staff Writer
A single-car crash Tuesday afternoon on US-89 just north of Mantua has taken the life of a Logan man.
According to Lieutenant Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol, at approximately 5:56 p.m. Broc M. Riley, 26, was headed southbound on US-89 near mile marker 9 at a high rate of speed when his 2003 Mercury Sable swerved between two other slower vehicles, hit the cement divider and bounced back across both southbound lanes. Riley's car then went off on the right side of the road, jumping a drainage ditch and hitting the mountainside, where it rolled multiple times.
Although he was wearing a seat belt, Riley was partially ejected from the car, instantly sustaining fatal injuries.
"The driver appears to have either not been wearing the shoulder part of his seat belt, or came out of the shoulder part during the force of the crash," stated Perry.
The speed of the crash, estimated between 85 and 100 miles per hour, was enough to jump the Mercury Sable 50 feet into the trees on the mountainside, hitting with enough force to dislodge both the engine and transmission from the car, launching them further down the road.
Authorities say alcohol was found at the crash scene, and evidence indicates that cell phone use may also have been a factor in the crash.
The slow lane of US-89 was blocked for approximately two and a half hours while the crash was investigated and cleared.
Portions of a Christmas-themed movie, “Miracle of Music,” by Production Media Films L.L.C., will be filmed at various Brigham City locations July 13-17.
Locations of the filming include Idle Isle Cafe, Main Street sidewalks between Forest Street and 53 South, and the Box Elder County Clerk’s office. During filming the sets will be closed and onlookers are discouraged as the actors and crew need as few distractions as possible in order to complete filming on schedule.
The film is being produced by Hybrid, a production company behind such films as “All I want for Christmas,” Dear Secret Santa,” “A Christmas Proposal,” and many others, including “The dog who saved...” series of films. Hybrid is also responsible for films featuring notable talent such as Cuba Gooding Junior, Danny Trejo, Dean Cain, Natasha Henstridge, Peter Fonda and Christian Slater.
There is an opportunity for residents to be involved as extras in the movie on the nights of Monday and Tuesday, July 16 and 17, for the filming of scenes depicting a Christmas festival. Filming will be done overnight.
Adults and children aged 10 and up are being sought for the scene. Requirements include: Men must be clean shaven (no facial hair), no visible tattoos or piercings, and no outrageous hairstyles or unnatural hair color. Extras need to bring coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots.
There is no compensation for being an extra, but “there will be lots of Coffee, Hot Cocoa, and Doughnuts [sic],” for those in the scene.
Those interested must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Brigham City” in the subject line. The following information must be included: first and last name of each person, ages, contact information (email and phone number) and photos of each person.
Click on image to enlarge
July 2, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Perry City Council on Thursday passed a resolution banning all aerial fireworks throughout the city, while restricting ground-based fireworks to defined residential areas.
The resolution represents an expansion of fireworks permissions to certain areas in the city east of US-89, when in the past all areas east of the highway were restricted.
The new fireworks restriction area encompasses all areas to the west of the Union Pacific railraod tracks, all areas east of US-89 south from 3000 South, all areas south and west of Peach Street (South 450 West) to 2500 South, areas west of Elk Grove Drive between 2400 South and 2500 South, areas west of 385 West between 2500 South and 2100 South, areas west of Sunridge Drive (225/250 West) from 2000 South to approximately 1800 South, areas south and east of 1750 South and 165 West, all areas east of 25 East from 1750 South to 1500 South, and all areas east of Dentwood Drive between 1500 South and the city limit.
An additional restriction zone has been established east of Perry Street between 3275 South and 3400 South, extending to Bing Avenue on the west.
The restrictions are effective from June 28 through September 30, unless extended. According to the resolution, violations of the fireworks restrictions will be charged as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by both fine and imprisonment.
If you have questions regarding whether fireworks are legal on your property, please call the Perry City Offices at 435-723-6461.
Box Elder News Journal
PO BOX 370
Brigham City, UT 84302
PHONE 435.723.3471 FAX 435.723.5247