Parleys Canyon Fire containment up to 80% after Wednesday rains |

Parleys Canyon Fire containment up to 80% after Wednesday rains

Alexander Cramer, Bubba Brown and Jay Hamburger/The Park Record
A map shows the footprint of the Parleys Canyon Fire, shaded in red, as of Tuesday morning. The 541-acre blaze grew quickly Saturday, with a single ridgeline separating it from Summit Park.
Courtesy image
Emergency alerts available

Residents can sign up to be notified of evacuations and other emergency alerts by visiting

Update: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Containment of the Parleys Canyon Fire doubled Wednesday to 80%, aided by a summer storm that brought consistent precipitation and unusually cold temperatures to the area.

The multi-state incident response team in command of the fire response was preparing to transition control to a smaller crew, according to an update Wednesday evening.

Fire officials said it was unlikely the fire would be completely extinguished by the rainstorm, but indicated its likelihood to spread or once again threaten neighborhoods was diminished.

The update anticipated no fire growth until at least Saturday evening because of the unusually cool and wet weather, which was predicted to include high humidity, significant precipitation and temperatures 20 degrees below normal. The update reported minimal and smoldering fire behavior and said fuels continue to burn out.

Update: Wednesday, 10:45 a.m.

Wednesday morning’s favorable fire conditions, cooler temperatures and rainy weather brought multiple announcements from fire officials that indicated the fight against the Parleys Canyon Fire had entered a new phase.

Most firefighters will likely be released from their duty fighting the fire on Wednesday, Utah Fire Info announced at 9 a.m. The number of personnel fighting the blaze had reached 278.

Fire officials announced 1/2 inch of rain fell on the fire overnight, with another 1 1/2 inches expected through Thursday. Firefighters will continue to increase containment as the weather allows, according to an announcement from Great Basin Team 4, the multi-state, multi-agency response team in command of firefighting efforts.

The containment line grew to 40% by Wednesday morning, up from 21%. A map released Wednesday morning shows the bulk of that progress was made on the western border of the fire.

Many fire-related orders have been lifted, including evacuations, lane closures on Interstate 80 and closures to portions of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests.

Summit Park trails will remain closed through the weekend to allow firefighters to continue to work, according to an announcement from Summit County.

According to an incident report released Tuesday evening, before the bulk of the rain arrived, fuels continued to burn out in the fire area, while heavier fuels in the southeast part of the fire continued to burn with a moderate potential to spread.

Officials have concentrated on a heavily timbered area just over a ridgeline from Summit Park. According to an update released Wednesday morning, fire activity was expected to be minimal.

“The total number of assigned resources will decrease beginning today, as wetting rains and accelerated firefighter progress mean fewer firefighters are needed to complete containment,” the update states. “These resources may be sent on to other existing or new fires. Some will get to return home for days off.”

The update also notes the potential of large amounts of water runoff or flash flooding in the burned areas.

Update: Tuesday, 7:20 p.m.

All residents in Summit County who were evacuated due to the Parleys Canyon Fire, including those in Summit Park and Timberline, can return to their homes at 8 p.m., Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez announced Tuesday. 

The announcement followed shortly after the Sheriff’s Office indicated the evacuation order would be lifted Tuesday evening for upper Pinebrook. 

The Sheriff’s Office initially said the evacuations in Summit Park and Timberline would be in effect until Thursday at 8 p.m. 

Heading into Tuesday, fire crews were concerned about the possibility of high winds accelerating the blaze. The fire’s easternmost border is near Summit Park but has not meaningfully progressed toward the neighborhood since Saturday, when it swept up Parleys Canyon. 

The anticipated winds did arrive, according to Nick Howell, a spokesperson for the firefighting effort. But crews were able to keep the fire under control nonetheless, preventing it from spreading to the residential areas. 

“We did get the winds, the winds did materialize, but they were able to keep the fire in check,” Howell said. 

Firefighting efforts were aided by a rainstorm following the winds, though it was unclear how much rain in total fell on the blaze. By 7 p.m., the fire was 40% contained and remained at 541 acres, Howell said. 

Howell added that, between the rain and cooler temperatures, there is little risk of the fire growing overnight. He said crews will assess the situation Wednesday morning. But he expected that by the time the vegetation in the area dries up, firefighters will have the blaze well in hand.

Update: Tuesday, 5:20 p.m.

The evacuation order for upper Pinebrook will be lifted at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez announced, moving up the timeline for a portion of residents displaced by the Parleys Canyon Fire to return to their homes. 

The evacuation for upper Pinebrook was initially slated to be lifted Wednesday evening. Residents of lower Pinebrook were allowed to return to their homes Monday. 

Summit Park and Timberline will remain under a mandatory evacuation order. The Sheriff’s Office indicated on Monday that the order for those neighborhoods would be in place until 8 p.m. Thursday, depending on fire conditions.

Update: Tuesday, 10:05 a.m.

Tuesday was shaping up to be “critical” in the fight against the Parleys Canyon Fire, according to a fire official, as severe weather was expected to bring heavy winds that could spread the blaze in unexpected directions.

Nick Howell, a spokesperson for Great Basin Team 4, said the fire grew slightly overnight but wasn’t particularly active early Tuesday. That could change with increased winds expected later today.

He said fire personnel would have to leave the site if extreme weather moved in.

“You can imagine what it would be like to be up there, have a huge rainstorm up there. The critical part of the day today is going to be in between that noon and 5 p.m. hour. That’s the window that we’re watching and expecting to produce probably the highest volumes of wind,” he said. “… We’re going to keep going as long as we can until we get forced out by the weather.”

Howell said around 9:30 a.m. that there were already increased winds on the fire site, but that hadn’t translated into significant fire activity. Once the front moves in, rains could help aid firefighting efforts.

The southeastern stretch of the fire is where it is closest to homes, he said, smoldering and burning in a natural bowl below a ridgeline that also bounds Summit Park.

The area is heavily timbered, he said, which can lead to hotter fires that, when they reach treetops, can throw sparks and embers beyond existing fire lines.

Howell reported that small spot fires had appeared on the Summit Park side of the ridge and been extinguished by crews there.

“That’s been a huge focus, to contain those,” he said.

He said the most critical part of the fight was the first day, as the fire raced uphill toward homes, but indicated that Tuesday’s efforts ahead of the storm were extremely important.

“There’s definitely a sense of urgency for teams and firefighters on the ground to get as much done as they can in the shortest time possible,” he said.

The containment line spread yesterday from its bulwark along Interstate 80, doubling in size to 21%.

According to an update from a national incident management database called InciWeb, there were 216 personnel deployed to fight the fire, and its expected containment date was midnight Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Update: Tuesday, 8:26 a.m.

Summit County declared a local emergency Monday evening due to the Parleys Canyon Fire, requesting aid from the state and federal governments to combat a crisis the order says “exceeds the resources of the community.”

The emergency order was implemented by County Manager Tom Fisher.

The order also authorizes the extension of the evacuation orders announced earlier Monday by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. Summit Park and Timberline will remain evacuated through 8 p.m. Thursday, while upper Pinebrook will remain evacuated through 8 p.m. Wednesday. According to the order, such an extension required Fisher’s consent. 

Additionally, the order activates the county’s emergency operations plan and emergency operations center. 

The order is slated to expire in 30 days unless the County Council takes action to extend it. 

Update: Monday, 7:15 p.m.

Crews battling the Parleys Canyon Fire encountered another day of “little fire activity,” allowing them to make significant progress against the blaze, a fire official said Monday evening.

Great Basin Team 4 spokesperson Jesse Bender said the fire was 21% contained, and officials anticipated the overnight hours to be relatively calm. 

Conditions could become more problematic Tuesday afternoon, however. Bender said crews are preparing for potential wind gusts that could accelerate the fire ahead of an anticipated cold front. 

“That’ll be the bit of bad news for the fire,” she said. “We’ll see how it does against those winds.”

The cold front is expected to bring rains that could aid firefighters. There is also the possibility that heavy rains could complicate the effort by causing runoff that would make it more difficult for crews to access the fire, Bender said.

Update: Monday, 5:22 p.m.

The first day of school within the Park City School District will be pushed back to Monday, Aug. 23, due to evacuations associated with the Parleys Canyon Fire, the district announced. 

Classes were originally scheduled to begin Thursday. 

The district indicated meet-and-greet events at its elementary schools would be held as planned from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and that preschool would start Sept. 1.

It was not anticipated the pushback would affect the last day of school, planned for June 3.

“Thank you to all for your support, encouragement, and care of one another as we navigate challenges associated with this longer than anticipated evacuation from our neighborhood homes,” Superintendent Jill Gildea said in a statement shared with The Park Record.

Correction: The School District initially indicated preschool would begin Aug. 30.

Update: Monday, 3:20 p.m.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office on Monday afternoon extended mandatory evacuation orders for Summit Park, Timberline and upper Pinebrook while lifting the order for lower Pinebrook.

The Sheriff’s Office announced in a social media post that the Summit Park and Timberline neighborhoods will remain evacuated through 8 p.m. Thursday, and that upper Pinebrook will remain evacuated through 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The Sheriff’s Office had previously said that evacuation orders were likely to continue through Tuesday morning, but indicated that weather conditions necessitated the change.

Residents of lower Pinebrook, meanwhile, were allowed to return to their homes. (See map).

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday afternoon that residents of lower Pinebrook, within the highlighted area, could return to their homes. Evacuation orders remain in place in upper Pinebrook, Timberline and Summit Park.
Courtesy of Summit County Sheriff’s Office

The Sheriff’s Office has said that it is basing evacuation orders on information from fire officials about fire activity.

“Fire officials tell us we need to extend the evacuation order due to a RED FLAG weather warning,” the post said.

A cold front was expected to bring turbulent weather to the area on Tuesday, including rain that could aid in fire suppression efforts.

Strong winds, however, could fan the flames, a fire official indicated.

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City at 11:45 a.m. issued a Red Flag warning effective from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday. 

The warning indicates that lightning, winds, microburst storms and low humidity may be expected.

It also states that any thunderstorms will bring the threat of strong and erratic winds.

“Isolated to widely scattered thunderstorms will develop Tuesday afternoon and shift eastward across the area through evening,” the warning states. “… Critical fire weather conditions are expected. Any new fire starts could spread rapidly.”

Update: Monday, 11:10 a.m.

Winds that picked up Sunday afternoon died down overnight, leading to minimal fire activity and clearer skies Monday, according to a fire official.

A larger incident response team took over firefighting efforts Monday morning. Great Basin Team 4 spokesperson Jesse Bender said the overnight hours were “very calm.”

“Nothing happened overnight,” Bender said. “… It’s kind of trite, but it’s very good news.”

She said crews were attacking the 539-acre blaze the same way they had since it started: working southward from Interstate 80 to implement fuel breaks to slow the fire’s spread.

A map shows the perimeter of the Parleys Canyon Fire as of Monday morning, in red, and its proximity to Summit Park.
Courtesy map

“Working from the highway upwards on both the east and west sides (of the fire) and working toward the south, uphill,” she said.

She said the fire had not reached Summit Park. A ridgeline separates the neighborhood from the blaze, which has been burning in a natural bowl as well as in varied terrain to the west and north toward I-80.

Evacuation orders remain in place for Summit Park, as well as Pinebrook and Timberline. Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said those are expected to remain until Tuesday morning, dependent on the fire conditions.

The fire remained at 10% containment as of 10 a.m. Monday morning. The number refers to the percentage of the total length of the perimeter of the fire, and is a designation that means firefighters are confident the fire will not progress any farther in that direction. 

The containment line is along I-80, Bender said, adding that the wide interstate acts as an effective fuel break.

The fire could continue to grow in multiple other directions.

According to an 8 a.m. update from a national incident management database known as InciWeb, crews anticipated minimal potential for the fire to grow to the southwest into Lambs Canyon, but the area closest to Summit Park was of higher concern.

“Moderate potential for growth in the southeast portion of the fire located in a heavily timbered bowl with chance of uphill runs and spotting potential into the Summit Park Community,” the update states.

Spotting is when “spot fires” crop up away from the main body of the fire because of sparks or flaming material carried by the wind.

Bender said crews were working on the fire’s entire perimeter, including removing vegetation, spraying water and using heavy machinery to create fuel breaks.

They were concentrating especially on the eastern side of the fire, which is the direction toward Summit Park.

“To the west we’ve got a lot more area before we get into infrastructure and homes, plus the prevailing winds come out of the west,” she said.

Bender said an incident meteorologist was expected to join the effort today, increasing crews’ confidence in weather reports ahead of a cold front expected to move in Tuesday.

Bender said officials estimate the cold front could bring 1 inch of precipitation, but that it wasn’t known if rain would fall directly on the fire. She added that increased winds could also pose a threat to spread the fire.

She anticipated another day with heavy support from aerial resources, which have been seen dropping water and fire retardant on or near the blaze. The Jordanelle Reservoir remains closed for day use as aircraft use it to refill their water stores. 

According to InciWeb, 191 personnel are working the fire, as well as multiple helicopters and bulldozers.

Update: Monday, 9 a.m.

New aerial mapping of the Parleys Canyon Fire shows it at 539 acres, Utah Fire Info announced Monday morning, down from the 619 that crews pegged it at Sunday. The fire was still 10% contained.

Utah Highway Patrol also announced Monday morning that multiple lanes are now open on eastbound Interstate 80, though the right lane remains closed. All westbound lanes are open.

Update: Sunday, 8:40 p.m.

After better-than-expected weather conditions aided crews battling the Parleys Canyon Fire for much of the day Sunday, hot temperatures in the late afternoon caused an uptick in fire behavior, but firefighters were able to prevent it from progressing closer to residential areas, a fire official said.

Sierra Hellstrom, a spokesperson for the Northern Utah Interagency Type 3 team, said crews anticipated the increase in fire activity around 3 to 4 p.m., the hottest part of the day. The fire likely grew in size but not as much as firefighters thought it might at the outset of Sunday. 

An update on the size of the fire, pegged at 619 acres earlier in the day, was not expected until late Sunday or early Monday, Hellstrom said. 

According to a tweet from Utah Fire Info, the fire was 10% contained by Sunday evening.

“Things went a lot better than expected,” Hellstrom said, adding, “Firefighters feel like they’re starting to make progress on the fire.” 

Crucially, the fire remained on the opposite side of the ridgeline separating it from Summit Park. Summit Park, Timberline and Pinebrook are under an evacuation order officials have indicated could last through Tuesday morning. 

The blaze moved quickly up Parleys Canyon toward the residential areas Saturday, triggering the evacuations, but had not substantially grown in that direction Sunday. 

Crews were becoming increasingly confident that they’d be able to keep the fire from spreading into the neighborhoods, Hellstrom said. 

“With the fire behavior we’re seeing today, we’re feeling a little better about being able to hold that line,” she said. “… We’re feeling confident about being able to get these residents back in their homes in the next couple days.”

Hellstrom said the fire is likely to die down somewhat overnight as temperatures drop, though crews will be monitoring it throughout the night. A larger fire response team is slated to take command of the firefighting efforts Monday morning, allowing firefighters to surround the blaze.

Update: Sunday, 3:40 p.m.

Lower temperatures and reduced winds Sunday have led to calmer fire conditions than seen Saturday, according to a fire official, and as of 3 p.m., the Parleys Canyon Fire has remained on the far side of a ridge separating it from the homes in Summit Park.

A fast-moving fire in Parleys Canyon on Saturday forced evacuations in Summit Park, Timberline and Pinebrook. Crews knocked on doors and marked each driveway they visited with spray paint to alert other first responders, Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright says.
Courtesy of Summit County

Sierra Hellstrom, a spokesperson for the Northern Utah Interagency Type 3 team, said winds that were predicted to pick up and blow the fire up Parleys Canyon toward the mountainous residential area largely had not materialized and that the fire remained in a natural bowl on the other side of the ridgeline from Summit Park.

“We haven’t seen much fire movement today,” she said around 2:45 p.m. “It’s actually been fairly low fire activity.”

But she warned that fire activity generally increases from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. as temperatures rise and the fire heats up.

The blaze was 0% contained, Hellstrom said, meaning it could still spread in any direction. She said that would likely continue to be the case through the day.

She said the low fire activity enabled ground crews to directly attack the fire, including putting water on its perimeter in places. On Saturday, amid aggressive fire behavior, crews concentrated on indirect firefighting techniques like cutting fuel breaks, she said.

Hellstrom partially credited smoke blowing in from out-of-state fires, as well as cloud clover, for suppressing temperatures and fire activity locally.

Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said evacuations in Summit Park, Pinebrook and Timberline were anticipated to remain in place until Tuesday morning, but that could change with updates from fire personnel.

Hellstrom said crews were working with hand tools and heavy machinery to create fuel breaks to slow the fire’s spread. 

Fire generally burns faster uphill as it essentially preheats the fuels above it, she said. She detailed three fuel breaks between the fire’s current location and the homes in Summit Park, one at the base of the hill near the fire, another at the ridgeline and another after the hill crests and the land drops toward the homes.

Hellstrom also offered more details about the fire’s ignition. A car driving up Parleys Canyon on Saturday caused “a few” different fires in the grasses alongside Interstate 80 that quickly merged into one larger fire, she said.

The vehicle’s catalytic converter was hanging low and causing sparks when it hit the pavement, she said. The fires moved quickly through the grass and hit timber. There were reports of entire trees going up in flames as the fire spread along the ground, and also of the fire spreading from treetop to treetop by the wind.

Hellstrom said she had not heard reports of similar fire activity on Sunday.

A larger incident response team began transitioning to take command of the fire response this afternoon and is expected to officially take over Monday at 6 a.m., Hellstrom said. The incoming Type 2 team is larger and trained to combat increasingly complex fires.

Advantageous weather is also expected to blow in, with some precipitation predicted early this week.

Hellstrom said it is unlikely anything but a large rainstorm would put the fire out.

She indicated that the blaze could burn until fire season is extinguished in the fall.

“It’s not uncommon that a fire at this elevation is a season-ending event,” she said.

Update: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

Rita Baden, a Summit Park resident, was the lone person who spent the night inside the emergency shelter set up in the Park City High School gymnasium.

Baden said she initially went to Ecker Hill Middle School on Saturday afternoon and was driven to the high school by a law enforcement officer.

She described a lonely night of disrupted sleep on a cot provided by the Red Cross, along with a blanket and pillow. She said the gym lights remained on through the night.

“It was a nervous sleep,” she said, adding, “For me, it’s not sleeping soundly.”

Rita Baden, a Summit Park resident, slept on a cot provided by the Red Cross inside the Park City High School gym. She described a night of nervous sleep after evacuating from her home Saturday.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Baden was accompanied by a kitten a firefighter was able to retrieve from her home. Another kitten remained at her home, she said.

According to a Red Cross official, several other people slept in vehicles or camper trailers in the school’s parking lot.

Park City Councilor Max Doilney appeared at Park City High School on Sunday afternoon to offer support for the people affected by the fire and the Red Cross representatives. Doilney said the scene was surreal.

“I went to high school here. It’s a continuation of the surreal year, or two years,” he said, adding. “It feels pretty eerie.”

Doilney said he spoke with Baden, telling her he has “supreme” confidence in the crews battling the fire.

“I would hate for her to sit here and think nobody is out there trying to save her house,” he said. 

Park City Mayor Andy Beerman arrived at the high school shortly after 2 p.m. to express gratitude to the Red Cross representatives.

“I just said thank you,” he said. “None of them live up here. … We’re grateful.”

He added that the people of Park City were rallying “behind those in need.”

“The generosity of the community continues,” he said.

Nann Worel, another Park City councilor and a candidate for mayor, was also at the high school Sunday afternoon.

Update: Sunday, 11:15 a.m.

The Parleys Canyon Fire had not reached the residential area of Summit Park as of 10:30 a.m. Sunday, according to two officials.

Fire officials hope to keep the blaze on the other side of a key ridgeline separating the fire from the mountainous residential area. They expect winds to once again blow the fire toward Summit Park on Sunday. According to Summit County, aerial mapping showed the fire has burned 619 acres, fewer than an earlier estimate Sunday morning of 1,500 acres.

Evacuations in the affected areas might last until Tuesday, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez announced, extending by a day the previous estimate that they could be in place between 24 and 48 hours.

There are 2,100 structures in the evacuation area, according to Summit County spokesperson Derek Siddoway.

A map showing the area under an evacuation order due to the Parleys Canyon Fire. The Summit Park, Timberline and Pinebrook neighborhoods are affected.
Courtesy of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said people who refuse to evacuate make it harder to fight the fire.

Aerial crews can be prevented from dropping fire retardant in areas where people are located, he said, and if the fire were to spread to the residential area, first responders would have to be pulled off suppression efforts to try to find residents.

“By doing that, they’re hampering our efforts to try to make the area safe, and they’re putting first responders’ lives in danger by not complying with the order to evacuate,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Office announced that evacuees could return briefly to their homes for necessary trips, in order to pick up medication or care for pets, for example. Residents must first check in with deputies at the evacuation checkpoints. 

Wright said crews were “at the mercy of the fire behavior” in determining how long to extend evacuation orders.

“If they make some good progress, the weather cooperates, the winds cooperate, there’s a likelihood that that evacuation timeline could be shortened,” he said Sunday morning.

Siddoway said crews expected similar weather conditions on Sunday as on Saturday, meaning high temperatures, no chance of precipitation and winds blowing up Parleys Canyon toward Summit Park.

Winds and temperatures generally lessen overnight, Siddoway said, and the wind generally reverses direction and blows down the canyon.

Siddoway said hand crews and those operating heavy machinery worked yesterday to establish a fire line between Summit Park and the fire, and that crews would focus their attention on that effort today.

The firebreak heads south from Interstate 80 on the eastern edge of the fire, he said.

He said the point of chief concern was an area on the southeastern corner of the fire. He characterized the area as a steep pine forest, adding that dead trees in the area could help the fire spread.

Siddoway said there were reports Saturday of the fire both “spotting” and “torching.” The former is where a fire leaps from treetop to treetop, aided by the wind. Torching is when fire spreads from the trunk of a tree upward, lighting the entire tree.

“Those aren’t good things,” he said. “It usually means fire is aggressive and factors in how fast the fire spreads. Definitely things of concern when we see those things in a fire.”

He said aircraft were dropping large amounts of fire retardant yesterday evening on the ridgeline between Summit Park and the fire.

Fire officials have credited the work done by the aerial crews.

A Type 2 incident command was set to take control of firefighting efforts at noon, bringing additional resources to bear. A Type 1 response would be the largest, Siddoway said, adding that the increase in resources indicates how seriously state officials are taking the fire. 

Update: Sunday, 7:45 a.m.

The Park City Fire District indicated the fire was 0% contained Sunday morning and that 120 firefighters were on scene. According to Utah Fire Info, there was minimal fire behavior overnight, and a revised estimate put the size of the blaze at 1,500 acres.

Additionally, the Utah Department of Natural Resources announced that day-use water access at the Jordanelle Reservoir would be closed Sunday to allow fire crews to access the water.

Update: Saturday evening

An extremely fast moving fire swept up Parleys Canyon on Saturday afternoon, prompting mandatory evacuations in the Summit Park, Pinebrook and Timberline neighborhoods that could impact thousands of residents.

As of shortly before 6 p.m., the fire did not appear to have entered Summit Park, according to Summit County spokesperson Derek Siddoway and other officials. By 7 p.m., the fire was 0% contained and 3/4 of a mile from the nearest structure in Summit County.

Siddoway said a steady wind was blowing up Parleys Canyon from the direction of the fire’s starting point near Lambs Canyon, but that the fire did not appear to have crested the ridge separating it from Summit Park.

Siddoway said electricity and gas utilities planned to cut off service to Summit Park. He asked anyone who did not evacuate the area who relies on those utilities for medical reasons, like to power an oxygen tank, to call the Summit County dispatch non-emergency line at 435-615-3601.

Rocky Mountain Power said on social media that the fire caused a power outage affecting more than 2,400 customers in Park City. The utility indicated service was restored at about 5 p.m.

As of 5 p.m., teams of Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Search and Rescue volunteer crews had largely finished knocking on doors in Summit Park to notify residents of the evacuation order, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright, and were concentrating efforts in the Pinebrook neighborhood.

“Most people are collecting some belongings and leaving,” Wright said. “There’s a few that’s refused to leave, which, that’s their choice.”

Sheriff Justin Martinez said on social media that residents who are refusing to evacuate “are hampering efforts and are putting first responders in danger.”

Wright said the evacuation effort was unprecedented in the 15 years he’s worked for the county. A social media post from Summit County indicated evacuees should prepare to be displaced for 24 to 48 hours.

A Red Cross evacuation shelter was organized at Park City High School, where food and beverages such as apples, oranges, trail mix, Domino’s pizza, gatorade and bottled water were offered to evacuees. As of 8:15 p.m., approximately 30 to 35 people had utilized the shelter.

Dennis Saturnino, who lives in lower Pinebrook, arrived at the high school around 5 p.m. He said there was a lot of smoke in Pinebrook when he left his home but he could not see flames.

Saturnino and his wife, Barbara, left quickly and brought clothes, prescriptions, folding chairs and books with them.

“We just packed up and left,” he said. 

Another evacuee, Grant Pettinotti, who arrived at the high school with his wife and daughter, said his family “grabbed the essentials” as they left their Summit Park home.

“It was directly over the hill from us,” he said. “Winds were blowing in our direction.”

A shelter was set up at Park City High School on Saturday afternoon for people who evacuated their homes due to the Parleys Canyon Fire.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Pinebrook residents Mark Ridderhoff and his wife, meanwhile, saw the smoke getting closer to the neighborhood in the afternoon and understood the situation was serious. They packed for an hour and 15 minutes, filling three or four suitcases with valuables and computers. They also packed dog treats and cat food for their pets, who accompanied them to the high school.

“I was fighting to keep our most valuable,” he said, referring to their dog and cat.

According to a social media post from Utah Fire Info, the blaze, dubbed the Parleys Canyon Fire, was spreading at an “extreme rate,” and it had grown to an estimated 2,500-plus acres. Utah Fire Info said the fire was sparked when a “catalytic convertor in poor working order ejected hot particles” along Interstate 80.

The Utah Department of Transportation indicated multiple eastbound lanes of I-80 were closed Saturday afternoon, though one lane remained open. Westbound I-80 was open.

Utah Fire Info said people in the Lambs Canyon and Mill Creek Canyon areas were also evacuated. Evacuation orders affected 6,000-8,000 homes in total as of late Saturday afternoon.

A massive plume rose from the fire, with winds sending a thick layer of smoke into the Park City area. Some Parkites reported that ash was being blown into the area.

The Park City Fire District responded to the blaze, along with the United Fire Authority and other agencies. Siddoway said that all available resources were being dedicated to the fire, including crews working on the ground, fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and heavy machinery.

Michelle Andersen, a spokesperson for the Fire District, said Park City fire crews were assigned to protecting buildings in the threatened area.

“Their focus is to make sure no structures burn,” she said.

Summit Park is a mountainous, forested area dotted with homes connected by a series of narrow, twisting roads. Officials have long discussed the danger of a fire in that area and of the challenges involved in evacuating it.

“We are definitely aware of the geography and the potential of the threat in Summit Park,” Siddoway said. “We’re taking it very seriously.”

Wright described an “intense” scene as crews moved from house to house in Summit Park, racing against a fire on the other side of a ridge. Crews knocked on doors and marked each driveway they visited with spray paint to alert other first responders, he said.

“It was moving so quickly in Summit Park, it was extremely concerning for our deputies, our responders, just the fact it was moving so quickly,” he said. “We have a big responsibility to try to make contact with everyone and let them know to evacuate.”

Park City Mountain Resort indicated on social media after 4 p.m. that it was closing on-mountain operations for the day due to smoke from the fire. A concert scheduled at Canyons Village was canceled. Deer Valley Resort also canceled a concert at the Snow Park Amphitheater, a spokesperson said.

The Park Record will update this article as information becomes available. 


Summit County reacts to Roe v. Wade decision


More than 200 Parkites assembled on May 14 in response to a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court suggesting the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade could be overturned. On Friday, it was — prompting impassioned responses from both sides of the aisle across the nation – and in Summit County.

See more

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.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User