Park City fire chief: Devastating blaze like the Camp Fire in California unlikely locally
The Park City area in the summer can be warm and dry, sometimes leading to tinderbox conditions even at an elevation in the 7,000-foot range.
Local wildfires over the years have engulfed structures and forced people to flee. But the Park City Fire District chief said in an interview it is unlikely but not impossible the area will ever suffer a wildfire like the terrible Camp Fire that struck Paradise, California, in 2018. The Camp Fire is the subject of a Sundance Film Festival documentary, “Rebuilding Paradise.”
Fire Chief Paul Hewitt said in an interview the Park City area does not have the winds like those in the region of California where Paradise is located. The Santa Ana winds, he said, consistently move hot air, which can increase the fire danger in California. Hewitt added that the fire season in the Paradise area runs throughout the year. In the Park City area, the fire season stretches for just five months as a result of the heavy snows in the winter, he said.
“That area would love to have snowfall like we have,” Hewitt said.
He said steps can continue to be taken in the Park City area to guard against a devastating wildfire. There has especially been concern for years about neighborhoods like Old Town and Summit Park, two densely developed areas that abut vast tracts of open land that could ignite.
Hewitt said houses could be hardened against wildfires with noncombustible materials. The installation of wire mesh under the edge of a roofline or at an inlet to a home could reduce the threat of flames and embers to a structure, he said.
He also noted the importance of creating so-called defensible space around a structure by removing vegetation that grows close to a building.
The fire chief, though, cautioned against downplaying the risk of wildfires in the Park City area. The community must remain vigilant, he said.
“We watched and followed it really closely at the time,” Hewitt said about the Camp Fire, explaining an interest in the cause and the emergency response. “I wanted to see how they fought it.”
Information about fire prevention and safety is available on the Fire District’s website, http://www.pcfd.org.
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