Firefighters from various agencies were battling several fires in the general area of the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground on July 8 when lightning struck that afternoon near the civilian-staffed military test site, threatening an LDS meetinghouse.
Leaders of the Dugway Ward, Tooele Utah South Stake, located 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, first thought they could protect their building by shoveling dirt and spraying water. But when they saw how quickly the fire was moving, they realized there was little they could do without the Lord's help."The best thing we could do at that point was pray," Bishop Joseph Morgan said. So members of the bishopric knelt in prayer in the bishop's office.
The fire was fanned by a northerly wind which could have driven it into the building or the neighboring town of Terra. As it turned out several hours later, the bulk of the fire jumped the highway and burned in the six-mile stretch between the building and the town.
"We feel the Lord intervened and blessed us," Bishop Morgan said the next day. "There wasn't much we could do but be ready. We were concerned, but never feared for our ward building."
The fire spread quickly and was labeled a Type 1 fire, the most serious designation for a wildfire.
Fires in recent years had prompted Church leaders to plow a 25-yard fire break around the building. Melchizedek Priesthood leaders used tractors to extend the fire break and hauled out hoses to water down the roof of the building and landscaping during the fire.
Firefighters started a backfire in the sagebrush near the break to control the flames and protect the building. The backfire lit up the sky with a dazzling golden glow that silhouetted the building.
The approximately 30 families of Terra were evacuated with a half-dozen families staying with members at the Army facility.