The Park Record editorial, September 5, 2009 |

The Park Record editorial, September 5, 2009

County residents must be vigilant about fire danger

In the children’s classic book, "Little House on the Prairie," a pioneer family cheers the day they can finally see their neighbor’s home. These days, more and more modern pioneers are trying to retreat into the woods far enough so they cannot see any other signs of civilization.

That incursion into the wilderness, though, comes with some serious responsibilities.

As we have learned over the years and have been so painfully reminded of this week, the wildland subdivisions that ring many urban areas in the West are extremely vulnerable to fires.

Summit County is not immune. In past years subdivisions like Rockport Estates, Summit Park and Samak have been threatened by wildland fires none as serious as the Station Fire in California which as of Friday had consumed 148,000 acres, but frightening to homeowners nonetheless.

Earlier this summer, local fire officials warned that due to the wet spring, there would be plenty of grass and underbrush to fuel potentially dangerous fire conditions. So far, the county has been fortunate in large part because homeowners have become more vigilant about creating firebreaks around their properties. There have been no serious blazes so far, but the fire season is not over.

Residents of Silver Creek Estates were reminded of that fact Thursday when a fluke electrical fire sparked an 8-acre brush fire in a field in the midst of their neighborhood. A birds’ nest created an electrical short on a power pole, igniting its inhabitants, who fell to the ground in flames. The surrounding dry grass caught fire immediately. Alert neighbors hosed down the grass until fire crews arrived on scene. It was a short but powerful lesson.

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The Park City Fire District offers local homeowners a number of services to help reduce fire danger in our rural mountain setting. Throughout the summer and fall they offer a free wood-chipping service to help homeowners remove tree branches that could pose fire hazards around their buildings. They also help property owners and neighborhood associations assess the fire danger in their communities and devise emergency plans. Local building officials can also offer advice about fire-retardant building materials.

All Summit County homeowners, especially those whose property abuts undeveloped areas, owe it to their families and their neighbors to help prevent wildfires and to be prepared to respond if one does occur.

For more information, log on to the Park City Fire District website,, or the National Fire Prevention Association website,