Fire officials describe pretty mellow season so far in Summit County
Firefighters battled a small, human-caused brush fire on Monday along Echo Dam Road, according to the North Summit Fire District.
At around 8:20 p.m. on July 4, crews responded to the fire on the east side of Echo Reservoir, according to Tyler Rowser, a public information officer with the North Summit Fire District. Rowser said some pretty good flames were visible when crew members arrived.
“Had it been another five to 10 minutes it would have went up the hill,” Rowser said. “But we were able to contain it to about half an acre.”
Several homes are located south of the site, however, no homes were threatened or evacuated, Rowser said, adding that traffic wasn’t affected either. He said crews had the blaze contained within a couple of hours.
An investigation to determine the cause of the fire is ongoing. However, officials said it was not caused by fireworks. Bryce Boyer, Summit County fire warden, said there were no reports of fireworks-related fires over the holiday weekend.
“But I had a brief chat with the deputy director of Unified Fire in the valley and he said they ran their butts off,” Boyer said. “They haven’t been seeing the showers that we have at the higher elevations. However, folks here should still continue to be cautious and conscientious of where they are.”
The North Summit Fire District has only responded to a few fires so far this year, Rowser said. However, he said it is definitely starting to pick up on the East Side. Last week, firefighters with the South Summit Fire Protection District responded to two brush fires in the Kamas Valley.
“The grass is starting to dry out and we are starting to feel like there will be more fire activity,” Rowser said. “On these hotter days, the wind is not helping to keep any moisture content in those fuels.”
According to fire officials, the increased humidity at night has prevented a rash of wildfires from taking place this summer.
“Most of all the vegetation that is alive — the sage, mountain brush and oak brush — still have a lot of moisture,” Boyer said. “We are seeing it [fires] heavier in the pine forest area with a lot of larger logs. But as soon as it comes out of those areas, that’s where it starts for the most part; up here into our area a lot of the native grasses are still pretty green.”
“But folks still need to be really cautious,” Boyer said. “Both of the fires over the weekend were with folks having sparked fires around where the cottonwood tree seeds are and that is what carried the fire. It’s not the grass or the brush or anything.”
Boyer said there is currently no burning allowed within the limits of Park City. In unincorporated Summit County, permits are required for all private burns conducted between April 1 and Oct. 31, according to the county website.
“Folks need to be aware of the rules and regulations throughout the county,” Boyer said. “We have been keeping information posted on the county website and on social media about the conditions and restrictions.”
At around this same time last year, fire crews had responded to nearly 100 calls, Boyer said. However, he said they only been dispatched about a dozen times this year. Boyer attributed the low number of calls to the weather and an increase in the distribution of information about controlled burning and prevention.
Boyer said if the forecast remains accurate and the high humidity continues, he doesn’t anticipate conditions changing any time soon.
“None of the fires are really picking up,” Boyer said. “After the first part of June, we had a lightning strike fire that we didn’t learn about until eight days later and it never got any bigger than half of an acre. It’s been a pretty mellow season so far, but there is always that possibility that it changes.”
For more information burning information about fire conditions go to http://summitcounty.org/561/Fire-Warden.
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