Weber Canyon fire claims three buildings, no injuries, over the weekend
A quickly moving brush fire in Weber Canyon was largely contained Saturday morning after starting Friday night, officials said, after it seriously damaged one structure overnight, threatened homes and prompted a handful of nearby residents to evacuate.
The Weber Canyon Fire was sparked late Friday by a power line and burned about 16.7 acres approximately 3.5 miles east of Oakley. The heavily wooded area is dotted with a few single-family homes along the Weber River and a number of seasonal cabins, fire officials said.
Summit County Search and Rescue volunteers went door to door notifying neighbors of the fire and advising them to evacuate, said Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright. While he didn’t have official numbers for those who fled the fire, Wright said that several people evacuated.
One outbuilding and two small cabins were destroyed, Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said.
The fire was fully extinguished Monday, Boyer said, aided by a winter storm that moved through the area.
The Park City Fire District was called in around 10:45 p.m. Friday evening to help fight the blaze, which Park City Fire Captain Sean Briley said appeared to have been caused by a downed power line. Derek Siddoway, a Summit County spokesperson, said high winds caused the fire to spread quickly, jump the Weber River and head up toward Hoyt’s Peak.
Officials initially took steps to protect nearby structures, Briley said.
Wright said strong winds were blowing the fire in multiple directions and that it was burning within yards of Weber Canyon Road. A half-mile stretch of the road remained closed overnight Friday and reopened around 5 a.m. Saturday.
Weather conditions improved as the night went on and helped slow the fire’s spread.
Crews from the South Summit, North Summit and Park City fire agencies responded, along with members of Summit County EMS. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Summit County Search and Rescue facilitated the voluntary evacuations and the Utah Highway Patrol helped control traffic, Siddoway said. Boyer took initial command of the scene and crews remained there overnight.
Siddoway thanked the multiple agencies for their collaborative efforts.
Fire officials said the blaze initially appeared to threaten several homes as high winds spread flames into the bone-dry vegetation.
A Rocky Mountain Power official said the utility’s preliminary investigation showed that a tree fell on a power line, also causing a power outage.
The outage began around 10:45 p.m. Friday and affected 2,661 customers. The utility restored power just after midnight for the majority of those affected, the spokesperson said, and power was fully restored by 10 a.m. Saturday.
He added that the utility would work with fire officials throughout their ongoing investigation.
Rocky Mountain Power has in recent weeks announced it was closely monitoring fire conditions across the state and had taken preliminary steps to shut down parts of its electrical grid in high-risk fire areas, including in Summit Park.
Briley said that winds subsided as the night went on and several rounds of precipitation helped slow the fire’s spread. A storm system brought lower temperatures and more precipitation over the weekend.
Briley noted how unusual the fire conditions are this year, with two small brush fires in recent days in the Snyderville Basin.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I used to be a wildland firefighter, and we’re definitely in a territory that I haven’t really seen, personally. Early November’s usually not very active, just with the cool temperatures. We just haven’t had any precipitation this whole year,” Briley said. “… This new change in the weather’s very welcome for us.”
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.