ALPINE -- In the new edition of the Alpine city newsletter, Mayor Hunt Willoughby made it plain that he is not happy with the slow-motion investigation into the cause of the Quail Fire.
"Nothing new on the fire investigation this month," the mayor told residents. "Every week we hear that it is two weeks out on the report. The federal folks are conducting the investigation and are not sharing their findings in a timely manner."
"I think the gist of it is that everyone has an attorney and they are making sure they do it right," the mayor told the Daily Herald on Wednesday.
The fire scorched 2,200 acres. Forest Service officials have already said they believe the fire was started by a person. Initial reports stated the blaze was sparked by a track hoe. In July, the mayor said he had been told the report would be ready in about 30 days.
Now, three months later, what is taking so long?
Three federal investigators have been working to determine the cause, Forest Service spokeswoman Loyal Clark told the Daily Herald on Wednesday. But they are extremely busy.
"They are in the process of putting together a final report," she said. "There is no deadline on when the report will be ready to be released. When it is ready, we will release that publicly."
Investigators are not able to say whether the final report will be days or weeks in coming, she said.
"This is a priority," Clark said.
What of the mayor's claim that federal investigators are simply not sharing information, and only say, every two weeks, that another two weeks is needed? Clark said federal investigators are communicating fully with Lone Peak police, keeping them abreast of any forward movement.
If someone is found to have caused the fire, the mayor said his understanding is that they would only get jail time if they are found criminally negligent, but how that could be determined is unknown. A guilty party possibly could face fines.
Meanwhile, the citywide fire ban has been lifted as of Oct. 1. Backyard barbecues are back on.
"We still want people to be careful," the mayor said.