Record editorial: Take heed — dry conditions have brought an early start to wildfire season
Amid a dry ski season, many people in Park City over the winter were concerned about how the below-average snowfall would affect the skiing and snowboarding experience on the mountain.
Astute Parkites were also thinking about another ramification: the possibility of an even more dangerous fire season.
Those worries appear justified as the hottest time of the year approaches. Summit County, like the rest of the state — and much of the West — is already drying out, prompting fire officials to sound the alarm about what could unfold over the course of the next few months as conditions continue to worsen.
In short, we are in for a tense summer, and the danger is already here. Anyone who needed a reminder about the risks we confront in the wildland urban interface got one early in the week as a human-caused blaze spread a little too close to home, in Morgan County’s East Canyon State Park. Crews were able to make significant progress containing the fire by Thursday, but it nonetheless showed the severity of the conditions in the area.
After two successive relatively tame wildfire seasons in Summit County, the takeaway for residents should be this: Our luck won’t last forever.
At the same time, we must also take heed of the fact that there are things we can all do to tilt the odds in our favor. That starts with an obvious step: following any fire restrictions that are in place.
Officials so far have reacted with an appropriate sense of urgency, with the state implementing limits or bans in unincorporated areas on open fires, fireworks and other activities likely to spark a blaze. It’s a good bet that municipalities within Summit County will follow suit. It seems unlikely that we’ll be celebrating the Fourth of July with personal fireworks this year, for instance, but that and other safety measures are a small sacrifice compared to the prospect of a fire breaking out near a population center.
Summit County residents should also spend time in the next few weeks preparing for the possibility of the worst-case scenario by hardening their homes and creating family emergency and evacuation plans. The time to prepare is now, not when a wildfire is already at our doorstep.
Hopefully, those preparations will turn out not to have been necessary. But with summer just beginning, and conditions already this dry, we should do all we can to increase our chances of emerging from fire season unscathed.
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