POCATELLO — A local father and son found themselves in the path of a raging wildfire on Friday afternoon but escaped harm thanks to a change in wind direction and the timely arrival of firefighters.
Jason Weaver and his 14-year-old son Cooper ventured outside of their home in the 1700 block of Monte Vista Drive to do what they could to help prevent the brush fire from spreading into their neighborhood.
The blaze had ignited around 3:45 p.m. Friday near the Interstate 15 northbound Pocatello Creek Road exit and from there the flames burned eastward parallel to Monte Vista Drive.
Equipped with garden hoses, Jason and Cooper viewed the flames burning in the open terrain north of their neighborhood. The father and son were spraying water on the ground between their neighborhood and the fire to slow or stop the spread of the flames just in case the blaze changed direction and headed for the homes.
Jason and Cooper shot a Facebook Live video of their efforts, which took a dramatic turn when the wind shifted direction and sent the fire heading directly toward them.
But just as Jason can be heard on the Facebook Live video telling his son to “get back” from the approaching flames a fire truck arrived on the scene and the wind shifted again, sending the fire away from the Monte Vista neighborhood.
When asked what it felt like to be in the wildfire’s path, Jason took the incident in stride and said, “Fun times.”
Jason’s wife Mariah and his three other children were watching the Facebook Live video from the family’s home across the street.
When the video became clouded by the flames and smoke, Jason’s youngest children, 2-year-old Akyra and 5-year-old Aidan, told their mother “Daddy’s dead.”
Jason said the fire burned to within 50 feet of some of the neighborhood’s homes before the flames reversed course.
The Pocatello Fire Department said the fire scorched about eight acres and did not result in any injuries, evacuations or damage to structures.
The Fire Department said officials at the Monte Vista Hills nursing home did briefly consider evacuating the facility as the flames approached but in the end decided against the idea.
The Chubbuck Fire Department as well as Bureau of Land Management firefighters also responded to the blaze, which was contained by around 5:30 p.m.
Firefighters are expected to remain on the scene extinguishing hot spots until late Friday night.
Pocatello Fire Chief Dave Gates said he was “super happy” with firefighters’ response to the Pocatello area’s first large brush fire of the season.
He especially praised Pocatello firefighter Nathan Hauser, who was serving as battalion chief for the first time on Friday and was the incident commander for the fire.
Gates said the cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Pocatello Fire Department. He said the fact that the fire started near Interstate 15 could indicate that it was possibly caused by a motorist discarding a cigarette or chains hanging from a vehicle creating sparks.