City Hall readies for wildfire season
Wildfire season has started and the Park City Council held a discussion Thursday about wildfire awareness, as well as possible measures to be taken in Round Valley to reduce the risk of wildfire and the possible adoption of wildfire mitigation regulations.
"Park City has been lucky with wildfire, but luck is a poor method of prevention and mitigation," wrote Hugh Daniels, City Hall’s emergency manager, in a report issued in anticipation of the meeting.
The wildfire forecast for the season is "normal," as it was last year. Daniels noted that a "normal" season "can produce over 400 fires statewide." The more specific forecasts as the summer progresses will depend on humidity, precipitation and weather patterns, city staffers explained.
Fireworks will likely be banned, as they have been the past two years.
"We’ll try to keep the public shows on," Daniels said.
Community outreach is one element of the Park City Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which was adopted by the City Council last year.
The theme for this year’s outreach campaign, a collaborative effort between the Park City Fire District and City Hall that is being developed, is "Don’t Get Me Started."
In past years, community outreach has involved public service announcements on KPCW and advertising in The Park Record.
Wildfire mitigation measures in Round Valley were discussed. City Councilor Cindy Matsumoto said that with the types of fuel for wildfires and the prevailing winds in Round Valley, it’s "a high priority."
Daniels reported that the Round Valley area has seen two brush fires in recent years and that its "flora and fauna" is "an identical representation" of the types of land charred by last year’s Rockport fire and the Fox Bay fire in 2012.
The city it applying for a federal Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant to fund Round Valley wildfire mitigation efforts, including building fire breaks along existing "Jeep roads" in the area.
As to the homes in the area, Summit County Emergency Manager Kevin Callahan said that approximately half the properties in the area are properly mitigated while another quarter could be "easily mitigated."
Embers that can travel more than a mile in wildfires are the cause of most structure loss from wildfires, Daniels wrote. "That puts all of Park City and the surrounding area at risk." He told the City Council on Thursday that while "well-mitigated" homes in Rockport survived last year’s fire, "in Old Town, you can’t do that."
A group composed of city and county fire district representatives known as the "wildland urban interface group" will later this year examine potential adoption of the International Wildland Urban Interface Code, which would address "the unrestricted use of property" in wildfire-threatened areas.
The group "will be doing significant outreach to the community and builders association," Daniels wrote.
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It is showtime for City Hall’s efforts to reduce the impact of the Sundance Film Festival crowds on Park City, particularly on Old Town.