Controlled burn along Brown’s Canyon Road causes alarm
A large controlled burn raised public concerns this week when flames were seen above Brown’s Canyon Road, resulting in several calls to the Summit County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center.
According to Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer, a large pile of green waste was burned Tuesday at one of the rock quarries along Brown’s Canyon Road, prompting the reports. Boyer said the Sheriff’s Office had been notified and the burn was approved.
"The gentleman did everything he should have done and it was done in accordance to regulations," Boyer said. "But based on the fact that it was as large as it was, as visible as it was and that it had not been publicized, dispatch was getting a lot of calls. It was visible from State Road 32, as well as Rockport and Promontory, all the way to the top end of State Road 248.
"My supervisor and I eventually pulled out signs and placed them on the road and that significantly reduced the amount of calls," Boyer said.
Private landowners within unincorporated Summit County are allowed to conduct open burns as long as the weather conditions, such as the clearing index and winds, fall within the regulations of the Division of Air Quality, which requires a 500-foot clearing to minimize emissions. Burn permits are required between June 1 and Oct. 31.
In incorporated areas, an open burn period is between March 3 and April 30 and Sept. 15 and Oct. 31. This is the only time open burns are allowed in incorporated areas.
Summit County Fire frequently assists landowners to help manage open burns, Boyer said.
"When we are doing that we have to write a burn plan and submit it with the Division of Air Quality and we have to go through several different forms discussing how we are going to manage the smoke and how much we are going to burn," Boyer said.
At this time of the year, the primary reason burning is restricted or banned when air quality could be compromised, Boyer said, adding that the snow reduces the potential of a wildfire spreading.
"We do a lot of the burning around this time," Boyer said. "It doesn’t spread and we notify dispatch and are really making an effort to put out public service announcements so the public knows we are aware of it."
As of Thursday afternoon, the controlled burn on Brown’s Canyon Road was still smoldering, Boyer said. It is the final controlled burn of the year, Boyer said.
"I’m not aware of any more," Boyer said. "I know after the New Year I’ve got a burn in Hoytsville and I will looking for an opportunity to assist Rockport in getting rid of their pile and we will have some others up on the North Slope. "
Boyer said controlled burns are beneficial and more cost effective for removing vegetation and maintaining the land.
"I know there are a lot of influences pushing for no burning and I can understand that down in the valley, but up here we don’t really have the same air quality issues. When it is cold though, the smoke doesn’t have a tendency to lift so we are trying to get folks not to burn on restricted days so it doesn’t get any further restricted or become banned."
Summit County has had 11 ‘No Burn’ days in December because of the clearing index and is currently under restrictions through Dec. 19.
For more information about open burning, go to http://www.co.summit.ut.us/561/Fire-Warden.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.