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Parley's Canyon Fire Debriefing Will Provide Look at Emergency Response

David Winegar

Park City and Summit County will hold a Parleys Canyon Fire community meeting on Thursday evening at 5:30 to review  response to last month’s emergency.

Park City Emergency Program Manager Mike McComb said the event, which the public is encouraged to attend, will begin with a panel discussing details and timing of the Parleys fire response.

"We are going to hear from a panel of responding agencies. Agents first go over a timeline of events and discuss kind of how that all went down and then hear from the various responding agencies, their observations, any lessons learned, and then move into a section where we discuss how the community can be prepared on an individual and family household level."

He said families and households should prepare for disasters by having a solid plan for evacuation and having supplies on hand to sustain themselves up to 72 hours.

"Then take into account the chance, likely, people will not be in the same place when an emergency happens. Kids may be at school. Parents may be at work--all sorts of different circumstances. So having a plan on how to communicate under those circumstances."

McComb said the Parleys fire showed the community what can happen when living in an urban-wildland interface fire area. He said defensible space is needed in every neighborhood.

Fire mitigation work on Treasure Hill, which is now underway, includes thinning underbrush and clearing a 100-foot radius around buildings. He said a healthy forest is a mixture of meadow and trees with patchy open spaces, new growth, medium-sized trees, and old trees. He said older trees are more resistant to fire.

"Our forest service has gotten very, very good at fighting wildfires over the past century or so. Detecting them early and then immediately extinguishing them to prevent further spread. But, fire is part of the natural landscape, and it's part of the cycle. When you look at the vast unbroken expanse, those trees are all competing for light, for water, for soil, for air. They're killing each other out in the competition. So, in a healthy forest, you should be able to walk amongst the trees or ski between them if you prefer.”

McComb said the ski runs throughout the mountains could serve as defensible space by creating a fuel gap. But the reality, he said, is that the ski runs wouldn't do much if a large blaze were to come over the ridge from Salt Lake County.

"City property abuts Salt Lake County, and there's a whole mountain range behind what we see here in Park City. If we were to get a large, large-scale fire, it would be dicey. It would be sporting. And those embers from fires, especially if they're being wind driven--some of those embers can travel over a mile."

McComb is co-chair of the Western Summit County Fuels Committee, which includes Park City, Summit County, the resorts, large landowners, and HOAs.

“We're looking at ways to collaborate and coordinate work on large open spaces where we can draw down that risk we can reduce those fuels and hopefully mitigate our risk.”

The Parleys Canyon Fire Community Panel is Thursday from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Santy Auditorium at 1255 Park Ave. A public Q&A session will follow.
To join by ZOOM click here.          

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