Neighbors’ cookout OK’d |

Neighbors’ cookout OK’d

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall approved on Monday a permit for revelers in Prospector to light a fire during a traditional outdoor neighborhood celebration, determining that the neighbors, even in the tinderbox conditions, can keep the fire safe.

The Building Department OK’d the permit on the same day the neighbors submitted the application. The celebration is scheduled on July 21 in a vacant lot at 2693 Annie Oakley Drive, in a densely populated part of Park City.

"It’s a pretty small area to start with, and second, it will be controlled," says Ron Ivie, City Hall’s chief building official.

The neighbors’ application describes the fire as a bonfire or rubbish fire, but Ivie and one of the organizers say the people at the celebration will use the flames for cooking. It will not be a bonfire like large ones set sometimes before big high-school football games, they say.

"It’s controlled. It’s managed. The people are there," Ivie says.

In his approval of the permit, Ivie says the neighbors must clear the grass and wet down the ground within 15 feet of the fire. They must make sure the fire is out before they leave, according to Ivie’s requirements.

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He says the fire will be limited to a pit, between one and two feet deep.

The approval comes as a wildfire rages in central Utah and with local fire officials still leery of the prospects of one in Summit County. Hazardous wildfire conditions continue to grip Utah, with hot, dry weather having settled over the state.

The July 21 celebration features lobsters flown in from Maine. They will be steamed, requiring the fire to boil the water. Joe Maslowski, one of the neighbors, says the fire will be "very carefully controlled" and he is "100 percent confident" the event will be safe. Two hoses from nearby houses are available, he says.

"In essence, what we’re having is a hole in the ground, covered by a pot, to boil our lobsters," Maslowski says.

He expects between 100 and 200 people will attend. Maslowski says someone will mow the grass at the lot before the celebration, and the neighbors will place gravel on the ground surrounding the fire’s location.

"There will be lots of attention paid to this," Maslowski says.

The wildfire worries started a little before the 4th of July, when the weather changed, and there were widespread concerns that fireworks could start a blaze locally. Officials have since banned fireworks. The ban in Park City started July 8. It runs until Oct. 1 and includes the Pioneer Day holiday.

Still, Parkites reported several small fires in the last week. Someone called the police after seeing a brush fire at about 1 p.m. on July 5. It was on the 1500 block of Snow Creek Drive.

Tricia Hurd, the spokeswoman for the Park City Fire District, says the fire measured 20 feet by 20 feet. Firefighters put it out within a minute of arriving, she says. The firefighters did not determine how it started, Hurd says.

Meanwhile a trash can was found ablaze at the Three Kings Drive-Crescent Road intersection at 8:56 p.m. on July 8. Police officers arrested two men on charges that they set it on fire, according to Park City Police Department logs. A trash bin was found on fire at 7:37 p.m. on July 6. It was on the 3500 block of Sun Ridge Drive.

Hurd says the fire district does not plan to take special precautions during the neighbors’ celebration. She says the fire district likely would not allow a similar event on the West Side outside the Park City limits.

Hurd, though, says the fire district will not challenge Ivie’s determination to allow the fire.

"If he has approved it, he deems it safe to do so," she says. "My impression is there will not be a large flame."