See smoke? call 911, and call it fast
It was into the evening on Thursday, as the sun was ready to set, when emergency responders received a call, apparently from someone in Park Meadows.
The person believed they saw smoke from the porch where they were. The Park City Fire District responded quickly, sending firefighters to the edge of Park Meadows to investigate. The rough location where the person sighted the smoke is in an area that has long concerned firefighters and emergency planners — a large expanse of open lands sitting close to a neighborhood.
The firefighters arrived, found that there was not a fire and left. The false alarm, though, was not discouraging, the fire chief said. Paul Hewitt, the leader of the Fire District, said people should not be hesitant to call for firefighters if they believe they see smoke or a fire.
The call to Park Meadows was logged shortly after Hewitt and Hugh Daniels, City Hall’s emergency manager, appeared in front of Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council talking about the fire danger. It was not immediately clear which street the person who contacted the authorities was on, but they could have been in the vicinity of Ashley Avenue and Eagle View Court.
"A false alarm is not a false alarm unless it’s proven to be a false alarm," Hewitt said on Friday, noting that some calls involve fire alarms triggered by burnt popcorn.
He said there have not been more false alarms than usual. In the case in Park Meadows, Hewitt said, there was not a fire unless someone extinguished it prior to the firefighters arriving.
Still, the fire chief encourages people to quickly call 911 if they see smoke or flames.
Daniels was also briefed about the call on Thursday, saying that the Park City Police Department responded alongside the firefighters. He said the smoke that was reported could have come from a barbecue or the caller might have mistaken dust from a construction site for smoke.
"If they believe there’s smoke and fire, it’s a valid use of 911," Daniels said.
The call on Thursday evening came amid heightened tension in the area as the hot, dry weather continues to grip the state and large fires burn elsewhere in Utah. There was a smoky haze in the Park City-area skies at some points in the last week.
Emergency officials like Daniels and Hewitt, meanwhile, are gravely concerned about the upcoming Independence Day holiday even after City Hall and the County Courthouse have banned the use of fireworks by individuals. A terrible wildfire has for years been one of the chief worries of emergency planners in Park City and Summit County.
The police received reports of fireworks being set off in the week or so prior to the bans being adopted. In one case, several kids were reportedly seen setting off fireworks on Three Kings Drive. In another one, someone on Norfolk Avenue told police dispatchers they saw fireworks in the area.
"It’s important to the Fire District to respond immediately and catch anything small," Daniels said.