Officials ‘very grateful’ for rain as fire continues to burn in Tollgate
Suppression efforts on the fire in Tollgate Canyon were winding down on Friday, leading Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer to release all crews from the area.
The fire was considered about 90 percent contained as of Friday morning, with the total damage held to about 287 acres.
Investigators have determined that a vehicle fire started the blaze, according to Krachel Murdock, a Summit County spokesowman. The vehicle has been tracked down, but no further details were available on what exactly started the fire and whether the vehicle owner could face any criminal charges. An investigation was underway.
Fire officials were “very grateful” for the rain showers on Thursday in Summit County as firefighters continued to battle the blaze, which started Monday near Tollgate Canyon Road, for the fourth straight day, Murdock said.
“The rain definitely helped,” she said. “But, we’ve been watching the rains since the vegetation has been removed from that area.”
Officials were concerned about water runoff, but as the weather pattern began to pass on Friday it reduced the risk of it occurring, Murdock said.
Four homes in Tollgate briefly evacuated Monday were still under an advisory on Thursday, but were released Friday. One cell tower is still being monitored.
The Blue Sky Ranch and High West Distillery were also evacuated on Monday afternoon as the fire quickly grew. Residents who were already at home when the fire started were told to stay indoors, while others were unable to reach their homes as officials shut down the only entryway into the private community. There are approximately 400 homes in the area, with about 200 full-time residents.
No homes or structures were destroyed as a result of the blaze. One shed on a private property received minor damage due to the heat from the flames.
The area is now open to traffic. People who were not residents were being told to avoid the area on Thursday as fire personnel continued with suppression efforts.
Firefighters with the Northern Utah Interagency Fire Center was the final crew on scene Thursday morning monitoring the fire, according to Murdock. They have been released. Firefighters from the Park City Fire District, along with crews from the North Summit Fire District, South Summit Fire District, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Utah Fire and personnel from Summit County Public Works responded to the incident.
The fire in Tollgate Canyon matched the size of another fire reporter in Henefer earlier this fire season, which usually lasts from June through October. The two blazes are the largest that have been battled this year.
Fire potential typically peaks in August, with elevations below 7,500 feet more prone to wildfires. Fire officials had anticipated the potential for an extremely active season due to the lack of snow, below normal precipitation, above normal temperatures and an anticipated moderate drought.
Boyer said the outlook for August continues to show high temperatures with little to no moisture.
Friday morning Boyer was responding to a fire in Crandall Canyon near the Rockport Reservoir. It covered less than an acre. He said another fire was also reported in the Cherry Canyon area, but did not have any details about its size. Cherry Canyon is located in the eastern part of the county near Wanship.
Becca Gerber, a first-term member of the Park City Council who is seen as bringing a younger person’s perspective to the Marsac Building, will seek reelection this year.