Hours upon hours of meticulous planning and training paid off this week as city, county, state and federal emergency responders leapt into action to fight a fast-moving wildfire in North Summit. Thanks to their professionalism, there was no loss of life and no major injuries, even though nearly 2,000 acres were consumed in just 24 hours.
And that acreage is not remote. It encompasses three subdivisions and borders on several others. Hundreds of property owners had to be evacuated.
Ultimately, only eight homes were destroyed, certainly a tragic loss for those property owners, but the fact that all of the residents escaped safely and so many homes were preserved is a credit to local and state firefighters and a fleet of daring helicopter and air-tanker pilots.
Park City and Summit County employees appeared to be seamlessly coordinated, with many putting in extra hours to backfill positions while others manned the front lines. From the door-to-door evacuation warnings to the almost instantaneous response from the Red Cross, citizens were provided an impressive safety net.
But, as Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer was quick to point out, residents also have a responsibility to help protect their properties. According to Boyer, clearing brush and keeping tree limbs away from structures is critical in creating a defensible perimeter that improves the odds of saving a home in the event of a wildfire.
Currently, local meteorologists are predicting a long, dry autumn with above-average temperatures, which means the Rockport Fire may not be the last we see in Summit County this year.
After this week's wildfire, we owe it to ourselves, to our neighbors and, most of all, to those we call on in an emergency to do as much as possible to minimize our next brush with Mother Nature's fury.