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Lookie-loo hikers hinder firefighters responding to blaze near University of Utah

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Firefighters are telling people to stay away from wildfires after onlookers near the Connecticut Fire created a dangerous situation for everyone involved. (Photo: Patrick Preston){ }

Firefighters are telling people to stay away from wildfires after onlookers near the Connecticut Fire created a dangerous situation for everyone involved.

As firefighters battled that blaze near the University of Utah earlier this week, 50 to 100 people were still hiking up the mountain as the fire was burning and stuck around to watch.

Firefighters say people were mistaken to think they were safe just because they were on the opposite hill. Authorities say the hikers put firefighters, themselves and homes in danger.

Firefighers had to shift their attention to life safety and babysit the hikers trying to get a close-up look.

"At that same time, over there on the other side, a whole group of people started gathering and started watching us fight fire from the other side of the ridge line, including all the way up to the top," said Captain Eric Myers with the Salt Lake City Fire Department. "It's very dangerous, life or death."

Myers said air support had to divert their flight paths several times to avoid hitting the hikers below with retardant and water.

They hope to avoid situations like this in the future.


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