Suspicious blaze fuels wildland fire concerns |

Suspicious blaze fuels wildland fire concerns

Nan Chalat Noaker, Record editor

Firefighters scrambled through dense brush to reach a suspicious blaze on the Aerie Thursday afternoon. They were able to steer it away from nearby homes with help from a helicopter doused the fire with water airlifted from the lower Deer Valley ponds.

nightfall the fire was contained within a 15-acre perimeter, according to Park City spokes woman Phyllis Robinson. However, fire personnel remained on the scene overnight to keep an eye out for flare ups.

The blaze was reported at 4:45 p.m. as smoke and flames became clearly visible from many vantage points around the city. According to Park City Fire District Battalion Chief Bob Evans, the point of origin was "right off Lost Prospector Trail."

Park City Firefighters, with help from their counterparts in North and South Summit had to bushwhack down a steep slope through heavy underbrush and dense scrub oak to reach the flames but they were able to lay down hose lines to maintain a buffer around several nearby structures.

"We had some very concerned homeowners and very justifiably," Evans said describing the response as "aggressive."

Aerie resident Howard Wallack said the fire came within 100 feet of his home. He first learned of the fire when a firefighter knocked on his door to let him know that, as a precaution, they were laying down a hose line around his home.

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"I thought that was great," he said, adding that he and his neighbors watched as the helicopter poured water on the fire while crews on the ground moved through the brush.

"It was a wonderful thing to see," said Wallack.

As of Friday morning Evans said crews were still keeping a close eye on the site but the only hot spots had been well within the perimeter and no property was threatened.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and Evans said indications are that it was human triggered.

Evans added that this is the peak of the wildland fire season and he urged people traveling on local trails to be extremely careful. Even if it rains this weekend he predicted the fire danger would remain high throughout the county.

According to Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer who also assisted in coordinating the response, the person or persons who started the fire could be held responsible for the suppression costs including use of the helicopter, personnel and equipment. He estimated that 50 to 80 firefighters from numerous agencies participated in extinguishing Thursday’s fire.