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Dragging Chains Starts Tollgate Fire

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez offered some details last week about how the Tollgate Fire started. And during his regular visit to KPCW, he had some tips about fires—since we still have several weeks left in the summer season.

Sheriff Martinez appeared last week on the Local View, speaking to host Chandler Montgomery.

Tollgate was reported as a vehicle-caused fire. The Sheriff discussed what happened.

“There was a witness to somebody who was doing construction in the area. From what I understand, (they were) hauling their trailer the chains were sparking. Just a simple sagging chain hitting the concrete caused a quick spark. Everything is so dry and it’s so hot it just erupted.”

He also reminded listeners that the use of private drones in a fire area is prohibited.

“Anytime there’s a fire and a private citizen flies a drone and we’ve got aviation, we’ve got helicopters and planes in the air, we no longer can fight the fires. They become a hazard to fire prevention. A lot of people don’t know that a lot of the bigger tankers when they’re flying in they have a smaller spotter plane that flies the trajectory of the bigger plane. If you have a drone in the area it will not just limit it will completely stop all flight operations. Any time there’s a fire I see where people get these beautiful pictures and it’s hovering above the fire. My ask is that if there’s a fire let us extinguish it, let us get it out. Do not fly a drone. We’ll get you plenty of photographs on scene we’ll get the helicopters and we’ll get the news media to do that. If a private drone is flying it shuts down all air operations.”

He said that residents still need to be careful for the rest of the summer

“Enjoy your camping but extinguish all fires. Be on the alert for other people that aren’t being cognizant and aware of their firefighting or having their fire pits. We want people to have fun, but we also want people to be very cautious when they’re out and about and report anything that you see immediately.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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