Summit County officials anticipate active fire season | ParkRecord.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Summit County officials anticipate active fire season

Danger is expected to start sooner this year because of the ongoing drought

Controlled burns in the forest above and to the southwest of Summit Park began on Wednesday and were slated to last until Friday. The crews set fire to slash piles that were collected last year above the Parkview trailhead. These fires are within one mile of the Parleys Canyon Fire that burned nearly 600 acres along Interstate 80 last summer.
David Jackson/Park Record

Summit County officials are gearing up for what they anticipate will be a dangerous fire season.

The ongoing drought has perpetuated harsh conditions across much of the state, and the desert-like environment will likely bring challenging wildfires. Fire season, which usually runs from June 1 until Oct. 31 in Utah, is expected to start sooner this summer because of the persistent dry weather, and North Summit Fire District Chief Ben Nielson said with the right circumstances, a fire could occur at any time.

“All you need is a spark,” he said.



North Summit Fire District firefighters started their yearly refresher in February and March, Nielson said. Crews endure classroom lessons and physical training, like walking 3 miles in 45 minutes while wearing a 45-pound vest, to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

With a lot of new staff at the North Summit Fire District, Nielson admitted it’s been a little harder getting everyone on the same page. However, most firefighters are already certified and were hired because they at least meet the minimum requirements of the job, which includes fighting wildland fires.



Nielson said the urban setting of a city provides firefighters with a water source they can use when battling blazes, but they don’t have that luxury outdoors. Instead, fire crews must bring their own water supply or rely on air support. In more extreme situations, neighboring counties may be called to assist.

Although Nielson wasn’t in Summit County when the Parleys Canyon Fire happened last summer, he said county staff has learned from the incident. Evacuation and ensuring the safety of residents is the first priority of fire crews. Nielson said fire crews will make sure people are safe first before attempting to contain any blaze and mitigate the environmental risks. Saving property is a secondary effort.

To help prevent wildfires, prescribed burns have already begun in Summit County, including one at Parkview trailhead that began on Wednesday and was scheduled to end on Friday. As the lack of water and drought conditions create more dead brush to burn, officials start their fires to reduce buildup and limit the likelihood of ignition from other sources.

Controlled burns in the forest above and to the southwest of Summit Park began on Wednesday and were slated to last until Friday. The crews set fire to slash piles that were collected last year above the Parkview trailhead. These fires are within one mile of the Parleys Canyon Fire that burned nearly 600 acres along Interstate 80 last summer.
David Jackson/Park Record

According to the Utah Division of Water Resources, there have been around 97 wildfires in the state this year, 88 of which have been human caused. The blazes in 2020 have burned a combined total of approximately 256 acres. Dry lightning, firing a gun, campfires or other recreational activities can trigger wildfires, according to Neilson. Weather-related factors like high winds, hot temperatures and drops in relative humidity play a role, too.

Nielson said it’s important for residents to pay attention to the forecast and avoid burning if it’s too dry. He also advises people to educate themselves and ensure they’re ready to leave their residences in the event of a wildfire, which includes having an evacuation plan in place. Individuals and families should also have extra fuel and a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit on hand.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.