Wildfire season is just heating up
The Park Record editorial, July 19-21, 2017
July 18, 2017
The Fourth of July fireworks have subsided but Summit County residents, especially those who live in outlying subdivisions among the sagebrush, pines and aspens are not out of the woods yet. This coming weekend's Pioneer Day is also known for its displays of incendiary devices.
In response, several local jurisdictions, including Coalville, Kamas, Oakley and Francis have banned open fires and fireworks.
But wildfires are not always human-caused. Despite most citizens' vigilance with fireworks, campfires etc., some of our community's most damaging fires were unpreventable. Last Friday's lightning-sparked fire on the hill above Jeremy Ranch Elementary School is one example.
It is also a valuable lesson in how alert residents aided by professional, well-equipped local firefighters can minimize the effects of a potentially significant wildfire. Because the fire was reported right away, Park City Fire District crews were on-scene before the blaze got out of control limiting its scope to a single acre.
Four years ago, the residents of Rockport Estates weren't as fortunate. A lightning strike fanned by high winds caused a wildfire that forced the evacuation of 300 homes and destroyed 12. That fire started in August — so one could say that Utah's wildfire season is just heating up. Last year's fire in the Uintas near Oakley kept firefighters busy right up until the first snowfall.
That does not mean homeowners need to huddle in fear for the rest of the summer, but next time a late afternoon thunderstorm rolls in as it did Monday, they should take a close look at their properties. If the wind is whipping tree branches against the house or nearby powerlines, make plans to call a tree-trimmer or the power company. Residents of subdivisions considered to fall within the urban/ wildland interface should take even more precautions.
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Suggestions about creating a defensible space around their homes as well as outlining an emergency plan in the event of a wildfire can be found on the website firewise.org Locally, the Park City Fire District's webpage also offers advice about fire prevention and emergency preparedness.
Some of the best, and hottest, days of summer are just ahead. The best way to protect our homes and our mountain playground is to be informed about wildfires and conscientious about preventing them.
Finally, if you do spot a possible wildfire local firefighters, don't hesitate to call 911. Local firefighters say they'd rather follow up on a mistaken campfire than miss the chance to quell a potential forest fire.