When it comes to fighting wildfires, time is of the essence. Last Friday, local emergency personnel leapt into action at the first report of a blaze in Rockport Estates and their quick response made a huge difference.
Summit County's immediate decision to declare a local emergency, which allowed them to call on state resources, was wise. Within just a few hours of the original 9-1-1 call, air tankers were dropping retardant on the 120-acre brushfire. evening the ominous column of smoke has disappeared but diligent firefighters stayed on the scene to ensure it did not reignite.
Nearby, Friends of Animals Utah, which houses about 150 animals at its rescue ranch near Rockport, wasted no time evacuating their charges to a kennel in Silver Creek. Even though the fire did not reach the ranch, their precautionary measures made sense if nothing else it was a good drill for the next emergency.
Last weekend's rapid response by North Summit firefighters, the sheriff's department and the county was likely influenced by last year's fast-moving wildfire that destroyed several homes and displaced more than 200 residents in the same vicinity. Few will forget those fearful days when high winds caused unpredictable flare-ups and put surrounding areas, including Promontory, on high alert.
This year a full roaster of agencies stepped up like seasoned veterans and prevented a potential disaster . By Sunday only one structure, the one where the fire originated, had been destroyed and there were no injuries.
Still, residents in the area have cause to be upset with the careless person who reportedly sparked the fire while using a power saw to build a deck. While accidental, other property owners in the area have gone to great lengths to prevent a repeat of last year. They have established defensible spaces by removing brush from around their homes, beefed up their Fire District's resources and have been taking all necessary precautions during the current drought to avoid exactly this kind of scenario.
The errant property owner may not have been able to anticipate hitting a nail and causing a spark, but he did fail to have enough water on hand to douse the flame before it got out of control. It is a good lesson for anyone doing any construction work around their properties this summer clear the space of flammable materials and have a hose at the ready.
When it comes to wildfires, especially in outlying subdivisions, we are all at the mercy of our neighbors' common sense. There is still at least one long month of summer heat to go. Let's give our firefighters a rest and make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent another fire.