Peak fire season is here in Summit County, with fire officials expecting danger to increase
Wildfire danger is increasing in Summit County, fire officials said, as temperatures rise, humidity lessens and vegetation turns into combustible fuel.
“We’re right at the beginning of the peak season — first week of July to maybe the second week of August,” Park City Fire Battalion Chief Mike Owens said. “… District-wide we’re at high fire danger. Really ask people to kind of, now’s not the best time for the backyard fire.”
Owens said the fire danger is ramping up, as is normal for this time of year, and that the area looks to be on track for an average fire season.
Summit County’s Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said there have been 39 fires county-wide, with the largest one at the end of June in the ledges above Henefer that spread to nearly 20 acres.
Notably for this time of year, Boyer said, there were no fireworks-caused blazes over the Fourth of July, which is rare.
He said he was in talks with Summit County and local law enforcement agencies to decide whether to allow fireworks on Pioneer Day, July 24.
North Summit Fire spokesperson Tyler Rowser agreed that people were being responsible on the Fourth and said that the district has seen an average season so far. Rowser is also a Coalville city councilor and said the city had implemented its annual fireworks restrictions, which essentially constrain the use of fireworks to July 4 and July 24, rather than the slightly larger time window allowed in state law.
Owens thanked residents for their contributions to the community’s safety so far this fire season, saying that the Park City Fire District’s chipping program has been busier than ever and that the wildland fire inspector has been making many house calls to help residents harden their homes.
The chipping program will come to a home and dispose of brush that is cleared in an effort to create defensible space around the residence. Information can be found at the department’s website, pcfd.org, and information on Summit County’s wood-chipping program can be found through the fire warden’s site at summitcounty.org/firewarden.
Boyer said that Summit County hasn’t restricted burning yet but that he had instituted an informal moratorium on burn permits as the weather has become more conducive to wildfire.
“With the way the weather has been the last two weeks, we’re trying to control fire danger that way rather than taking away all people’s rights on burnings,” he said. “We’re trying to work with folks this year a little more.”
He said a crew responded to a fire last weekend that started when a person was burning without a permit.
“Saturday we had pretty much all of the South Summit rigs down in Weber Canyon. Stopped it at an acre,” he said. “We’re not in restrictions but I’m kind of limiting it, I’m the one issuing burn permits. I’ve been telling them, haven’t seen any rain in two weeks, we’re down in low teens or single digits (relative humidity), upper 80s temps. We’re not issuing (permits) at this point.”
He said most people are agreeable when he explains the situation.
Boyer said burn permits are required for every fire that isn’t in an improved fire pit that meets certain specifications.
Rowser said that, while fire season appears to be progressing as normal, it’s ultimately dependent on Mother Nature, and that anything could happen through the rest of the summer and early fall.
He said that North Summit crews were out at 2 a.m. Monday morning fighting a blaze caused by a campfire that was improperly put out. He said the rule is simple about leaving a fire unattended.
“Too hot to touch, too hot to leave,” he said.
Planning Department staff on Wednesday shared an idea for a new concept, dubbed the Community Planning Lab, with the Summit County Council. The initiative strives to engage people who want to better understand the processes that drive executive decisions.
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