During fire driver hits patrol car | ParkRecord.com

During fire driver hits patrol car

by Patrick Parkinson, of the Record staff

This week, flames nipped at Highland Estates resident Leigh Terry’s backyard, nearly burning up the motorboat she stores west of U.S. 40 in the Snyderville Basin.

"It was on my property," Terry said about the fire that started Wednesday around 4:15 p.m. "Oh gosh, it got close to the boat. It came right up to the boat."

Terry, who worked as a firefighter for the Park City Fire District for 11 years, praised the work of her former comrades. She has lived in Highland Estates since 1999.

"I got home and I smelled smoke and I thought, boy, that [Milford Flat] fire must really be burning," she said about a wildfire raging in central Utah. Then she realized the fire was much closer.

Meanwhile, the blaze might have caused a rubber-necking motorist to strike a Utah Highway Patrol car on eastbound U.S. 40 Wednesday night.

"Park City did a really good job at getting stuff knocked down, and helping during the initial attack, to get it slowed down," Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said, adding that the fire involved about three acres.

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Nobody was injured by the fire, but paramedics transported someone following the traffic crash that occurred during the blaze.

"[The fire] caused a little problem with traffic and our safety," Boyer said. "People need to just slow down and not be paying attention to what we’re doing, but pay attention to the traffic that they’re in."

Kids playing with fire or high demand on electrical lines could have started the blaze, Boyer said.

"It was right off the road on the embankment," he said about the fire that burned near a utility line.

The blaze also scorched a berm used to reduce highway noise, Boyer said, adding that several houses were threatened in Highland Estates.

"It was quick moving, like we’re going to see this year," Boyer said. "One house had a lot of grass and brush and pine trees. It could have gotten a little dicey had it gotten that far."

By about 5:15 p.m. the fire was extinguished, he said, adding that around that time traffic started to back up on Interstate 80 when a motorist struck a patrol car at the scene of the blaze.

"Sometimes, it’s almost like a paradox," Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Doug Devenish said. "We’re there to make it safe and all the lights and extra vehicles are there with the intent to make it safe. Yet, because of the way people react, looking at things, and because they don’t pay attention to their driving, the paradox is, it’s more unsafe because of the way the public responds."

A trooper was standing outside his car when the vehicle was struck, Devenish explained.

"I went for about a 7-year stretch when I or my car was getting hit once a year," Devenish said. "For the last several years, I’ve been very lucky that way."

The vehicle that struck the patrol car was disabled, he said, adding, "that’s, inattentive driving and I would assume that they wrote him a ticket."

"[The driver] was looking at the fire and not paying attention," Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy Chentelle Daley said.

To avoid conflicts of interest, a Sheriff’s Office deputy investigated the crash that totaled the patrol car, to determine whether any citations should be issued.

"That was a pretty good hit," Devenish said, adding that the man who struck the car was reportedly transported via ambulance to a hospital in Heber.