Park City mining-era structure destroyed in fire (updated)
A fire destroyed a silver mining-era structure in Deer Valley on Saturday, the Park City Fire District said, indicating a campfire grew out of control before consuming the building known as the White Pine Cabin.
Bob Zanetti, the deputy fire chief at the Park City Fire District, said two men spent the night at the location and started a campfire in the morning. The fire spread out of control to the White Pine Cabin, he said. The Fire District received a report at just before 8 a.m. from mountain bikers who saw the fire. The bikers attempted to extinguish the flames before the firefighters arrived, Zanetti said.
The Fire District was at the scene for approximately three hours as the fire was extinguished and the firefighters ensured no hotspots remained. The fire burned an approximately 144-square-foot area, he said.
The campers were at the scene when the firefighters arrived, but further information was not immediately available about them.
The location is uphill from the Empire Canyon Lodge and just off the Orion ski run at Deer Valley Resort. The area in the vicinity of the location of the fire was important during Park City’s silver-mining days. There are well-known relics from the mining era running from the higher elevations of Empire Canyon to the lower ones, offering a history lesson of sorts to skiers, hikers and mountain bikers over the years.
Park City was founded as a silver-mining camp in the 19th century. The industry drove the Park City economy for decades, with the various mining firms putting up buildings necessary for the operations in the mountains surrounding Old Town.
The silver-mining industry eventually deteriorated with a steep drop in prices of the precious metal and by the middle of the 20th century Park City’s economy had tanked. The ski industry later rose to become the economic driver. The silver-mining heritage, though, is now seen as something that sets Park City apart from some of the competing mountain resorts in North America. Park City leaders and the influential preservation community in recent decades have pushed to protect the deteriorating buildings from the mining era.
The fire at the White Pine Cabin is another dramatic episode involving a mining-era structure or building. It occurred shortly after a move that was widely seen as a triumph in the preservation efforts with Deer Valley Resort’s securing of a City Hall approval to restore the hulking head frame of the Daly West Mine to an upright position five-plus years after it collapsed. The head frame location is outside the Empire Canyon Lodge and the Montage Deer Valley.
The White Pine Cabin was made of logs and research conducted to draft the text of a historical marker indicated the cabin could have served as a shack for miners or a building that was used by a mining firm itself.
Sally Elliott, a co-chair of a group called Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History that is heavily involved in the preservation of mining-era locations, said the relics show the hardships of the mining era. She said it was thoughtless that the men “would even consider striking a match” when the vegetation is so dry.
“I’m just heartbroken when we lose any structure,” she said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.
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The Park City Police Department last week received at least two reports involving cases of different natures at construction locations. In one of the cases, the police were told 1,000 construction workers had left vehicles on the street.