UPDATE: Crews resume efforts to fight Tollgate fire Tuesday | ParkRecord.com

UPDATE: Crews resume efforts to fight Tollgate fire Tuesday

Crews on Monday battled a brush fire in Tollgate Canyon.
Courtesy of Travis Petler

Fire crews on Tuesday continued to battle a brush fire in Tollgate Canyon that forced the evacuations of a handful of homes and businesses on Monday.

The blaze began early Monday afternoon, and four homes were evacuated on Forest Meadow Road as the fire quickly grew to about 287 acres, according to Summit County officials. The Blue Sky Ranch and High West Distillery were also evacuated.

“Firefighters were very aggressive with this fire not wanting this to spread,” said Krachel Murdock, a spokeswoman for Summit County. “We have 400 homes in the Tollgate area. So there was an aggressive take on this. … We didn’t want this to get into a situation where it was going to be an emergency.”

Residents in the area were allowed to return to their homes around 7:30 p.m. Monday as Tollgate Canyon Road, which was closed for much of the afternoon, reopened. No houses were in immediate danger as of Monday evening, officials said.

The fire was 10 percent contained by Monday night. Two fire engines monitored the blaze overnight before a crew of 25 firefighters began attacking it again Tuesday morning, Murdock said. Efforts on Tuesday were centered on the northeast corner of the fire, and crews were able to get it 30 percent contained by the end of the day.

The Park City Fire District responded to the blaze, along with the North Summit Fire District, South Summit Fire District, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Utah Fire and Summit County Public Works, officials said. Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez said on Twitter that deputies also responded, attempting to make contact with homeowners in the area during the early hours of the effort.

Two light fixed-winged aircraft, two helicopters and three bulldozers were also on scene as the blaze grew, Murdock said. Aircraft remained on call on Tuesday but were not initially deployed.

While much of the efforts Monday were focused on protecting homes, there was also concern that the fire could reach Interstate 80. As it grew nearer, crews engaged in what’s known as a controlled backburn in a successful effort to keep it away from the interstate, Murdock said. By Tuesday, flames remained visible from I-80, but no closures were expected.

“While the freeway is still open, we’re asking people to use caution and perhaps slow down a little bit,” Murdock said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of Tuesday morning.

Thick smoke from the fire was visible throughout the Park City area. Residents in the Kamas Valley also reported being able to clearly see a plume of smoke rising into the sky.

Watching the situation unfold was a difficult experience for many homeowners in the area, Murdock said. After access to Tollgate Canyon Road was restored, she watched as one woman drove into the neighborhood and saw the land the fire had burned. The woman stopped in the middle of the road and cupped her hands over her lips.

“You could just see the emotion as she took in that first sight,” Murdock said.

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