On Sunday afternoon, a wildfire near Herriman, Utah, a suburb in the southwestern part of Salt Lake County, forced the evacuation of more than 1,600 homes and 5,000 people.
Real Salt Lake fan favorite Andy Williams, or “Bomma,” who just hours before was in the middle of the action in a defeat of the Chicago Fire on Saturday, now found himself in the middle of the Machine Gun Wildfire.
A prolific tweeter, Williams gave the RSL faithful, and Salt Lake community as a whole, an inside view of the plight of the residents of the hillside community as the fire raged on the southwestern edge of the Salt Lake Valley.
“Huge fire in Bluffdale not too far from me,” Williams wrote through his Twitter account, @bommadog, around 5:30 p.m. MT. “It better stay on the other side of that mountain or else :-( "
The fire, it was reported, began around 3:30 p.m. as a result of a machine gun training exercise at Camp Williams, a National Guard Training Site operated by the Utah Army National Guard located 26 miles outside of Salt Lake City.
There was little coverage of the fire on local news at the time; the situation hardly seemed dire as the fire burned in an unpopulated area.
Although Camp Williams firefighters had responded to the scene immediately, the high winds blew the blaze out of control and it worked its way to Rose Canyon, which lies just south of Herriman by 6:30 p.m.[inline_node:318881]
“Here is the view from my house. http://twitpic.com/2q524t,” Williams wrote.
The RSL midfielder and his family packed up their belongings as things looked more serious and took another photo as the blaze grew stronger.
“http://yfrog.com/mzl2kj crazy now,” Williams wrote.
By 7:30 p.m., The Williams family was asked to abandon their house and join hundreds of others that had been asked to evacuate as well.
“Officially being evacuated right now, holy crap,” he wrote.
An hour later, Williams responded to the well wishes of a soccer blog that had been following the action on his twitter account.
“@GCSblog thanks for all concerns but we should be fine," Williams wrote. “Gotta move because of Marcia's lungs.”
Marcia is Andy’s wife, and she recently had a high-profile bout with a rare form of Leukemia. While her health looks to be good as of late, extra precautions are taken to ensure that she avoids infection or any conditions that may adversely affect her health.
More than 200 people had gone to Herriman High School for shelter by midnight, but the Williams family instead made their way to a hotel for the night to escape the soot and smog from the blaze.
“Checked in at a hotel safe and sound, thanks for all your prayers. Long night ahead,” Williams wrote at 9:43 p.m. Just 15 minutes later, the effect of the raging inferno started to sink in for Williams and the rest of the members of the community as they followed coverage.
“Watching the news and looking out my hotel window, not looking too good for our Herriman family,” Williams wrote.
At least 1,400 homes had been mandated to evacuate and it had been confirmed that several homes had suffered significant damage.
As daylight broke and progress was made on the firefighting front, Williams tweeted that he had been glued to the police scanner and Twitter all night, learning that four homes had been destroyed.
By Monday afternoon, evacuation orders had been lifted from several areas in Herriman and Williams and his family were able to return home. Unfortunately, the blaze had not been put out yet and the midfielder reported “constantly hearing helicopters flying over still trying to contain the fire.”
As of 9 a.m. on Tuesday, reports stated that over 400 firefighters were still battling the blaze, which had wiped out over 4,000 acres, and that it was 25 percent contained. Four hundred and fifty homes still remained evacuated. Fortunately no lives were lost, and only a couple of minor injuries have been reported as a result of firefighters battling the blaze.
Though the weather had cooperated on Monday, warnings had been issued that it would return to the same conditions that allowed it to flare up on Sunday and crews were still working hard to put out the fire.
To follow RSL midfielder Andy Williams on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/bommadog.