Twenty-one years ago this summer, I was driving home from working on a pipe project in Clearfield. As I drove down Interstate 15 on a Friday night, I received a call from my wife requesting that I get home right away.

I asked what was wrong. She mentioned that a fire had been started on the hills above northeast Orem and that it was approaching our home.

I was also informed that the Orem Fire captain was requesting to meet with me about the fire as soon as I arrived home.
Earlier that year, I had worked with our neighborhood setting up a call chain to be activated in times of an emergency in our area. I was at the head of the call chain.

When I arrived home, I immediately met with the captain. He explained that the fire in the hills above us was about to crest over the top of the hill next to us and would be headed down to our homes. He needed our help to build a fire line in a quick manner.

I started calling neighbors for help, and they started calling other neighbors. In a half hour’s-time we had more than 150 people with shovels, rakes and weed whackers out on a dirt road area building a fire line. Within two hours we had cleared the brush off of a mile and a half of road in front of the fire.
As we watched the city firefighters work, a county fire truck with men arrived and moved in to join i n with the other men and do a back burn.
By that time the fire had come over the hill and had started down towards our houses. As night began to fall, the fire crews started the back burn to go up the hill to meet the fire coming down the hill and hopefully, the fire would have no brush or bushes or trees to burn and sustain itself and would burn out.The back burn worked. The fire came down to within 20 feet of our neighborhood and then stopped.

The captain told us that if we had not been there so quickly that the fire would have had a chance to just keep going and threaten the burning of the homes closest to the fire. This would have meant about 20 homes could have caught fire and then afterwards, many more homes.

I am thankful that we as a church congregation and neighborhood had prepared ahead of time. I am thankful to all of the people who came out and worked so hard to save our neighborhood. I am thankful that we were organized and were able to jump in to save our homes from the fast moving fire.

After Hurricane Florence back east and Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires in our county this summer and my experience many years ago, I have come to realize that the time for preparation is before we are threatened with disasters that can affect our homes and families.

I hope that we all may look at what we need to do to be better prepared in case of an emergency. Have we thought about what could affect us? Have we taken the time and effort as a family, as a neighborhood and as a city to get prepared for emergencies and disasters that may very well come?
Mayor Brunst