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Tollgate Canyon reps ask for better fire protection


The North Summit Fire District will be presenting its budget to the county council as part of a special meeting, starting on Monday at 1.

During the council’s Public Comment time Wednesday, Mariana Mavor, with the Pine Meadow Ranch Homeowners Association, said they need to be recognized, given the growth in the area, and the amount of revenue they contribute to North Summit’s budget.

          “Tollgate Canyon is geographically unique in that it’s not close to anything else.  It’s also a tinderbox, or a matchbox.  We’re in the woods with a lot of dwellings.  We’re working really hard internally to create defensible space, but there are a lot of things need improvement to keep us safe, including we talked about road access, exits, fire exits.   It was promised with a handshake that we would get our fire station.   We’re concerned that maybe now they’re believing that they have better and higher uses for their money, we’re hoping they can reconsider this decision.  We believe they may.   But I don’t know what you’re gonna see on Monday.  And I hope that they will acknowledge that this is a priority for us to have our own fire protection.”

          Mavor added it takes a fire engine 20 to 25 minutes to get up the mountain from the Wanship station.

She said there is a fire facility in the neighborhood. It’s a Quonset Hut on dirt, unstaffed, with two fire engines that don’t start and no power. Mavor said the Tollgate area relies on volunteers.

Nolan Mitchell, a fire safety coordinator with the HOA, recalled the recent Parleys Canyon fire and the blaze that Tollgate Canyon experienced in the summer of 2018.

          “During the fire season, I live a daily nightmare that we’re going to have a fire, just like the one that was in Parleys Canyon, but it’s not going to end as well as that one did.    Three years ago, we had a fire down at the bottom of Tollgate, and it was literally the prevailing winds saved us.  And we had a quick response because it was so close to Wanship.   If that fire woulda been halfway up that canyon, lot of us would not be talking to you today.  It was that serious.  I’m not a fear-monger.  I don’t want to be accused of that.  But we have to do something, and we gotta do it now.   So having a fire station up there is a big piece of that puzzle.”  

          He said the neighborhood has about 500 full-time cabins, but it only has one access.

          “Because we’re surrounded by private land, we don’t have the way of doing eminent domain to be able to get an access off the property.  And when that fire came along, that road was actually blocked because we had a horse trailer got jack-knifed coming into the property.   So that could have been very, very deadly.   We coulda had a Paradise fire, and we don’t want that.”

          Mitchell said there’s general agreement they should have a fire station, but the question is when it will happen.

He said they need to have a voice with the North Summit Fire Board.

          “We have a unique environment up there, different than most of the other places in North Summit Fire District.  When you talk to some of those guys in their farming communities—and I have nothing against farmers, I was a dairyman, I totally understand—but when you talk to them about a fire, they’re worried about their field and a barn.  And we’re concerned about a neighbor having a campfire that burns down our whole mountain.”

          Nolan Mitchell from Pine Meadows Ranch.

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.