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Controlled burns allowed with permit through end of May

Park City Fire District assists Alpine Forestry in prescribed burn in Summit Park area in April 2022.
Park City Fire Department
Park City Fire District assists Alpine Forestry in prescribed burn in Summit Park area in April 2022.

When the weather becomes warmer, vegetation begins to dry out and the risk for wildfire increases. May is National Wildfire Awareness Month. Here's how Park City and Summit County are preparing.

If you’re driving along Interstate 80 or state Route 224 this week and see smoke in the area, do not be alarmed.

There will be controlled burns in the Snyderville Basin near Bear Hollow Drive, as well as the Summit Park area.

FULL INTERVIEW: PC Fire Battalion Chief Mike Owens

Park City Fire District Battalion Chief Mike Owens said burning slash piles is a way to keep forests healthy and mitigate dangerous wildfires.

The vegetation being burned was cut down last fall and now that most of the snow is gone, it’s time to burn the piles before wildfire season starts in June.

Owens said the controlled burns are easier to maintain when the ground is still wet.

“One of the things you'll notice with these columns of smoke that you see going up is we want them to go high, and we don't want them to stay low and just smolder and make a lot of smoke for the community,” Owens said. “So the companies that are out there doing the burns, the piles are wet, they sometimes take some encouragement to get going, which is good, because that means everything around them is going to take encouragement to get going as well. But once they get going, they do burn quite well.”

Professionals aren’t the only ones who are allowed to burn vegetation this month. Owens said Park City and other Summit County residents can apply for a permit now until May 30 to burn clippings, bushes and pruning from trees.

“The burning that happens now falls under the rules of the Environmental Protection Agency. Here in Utah, you have to go online to their website, you file for a permit, it's free,” Owens said. “Once you have that in place, then you just give dispatch a call and let them know that you're going to be doing burning. Dispatch will tell you if today's a day that you can burn or not. That's it. You can go ahead and burn your piles.”

In Summit County, open burns are not allowed within 50 feet of any building, structure, property line or public areas such as parks, schools, businesses and hospitals.

Only thoroughly dry materials from property and residential clean-up activities can be burned with a permit. The burning of trash, tires or oil is not allowed.

Also, burning can only happen under certain weather conditions. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality looks at wind and atmospheric conditions before issuing a three-day permit.

Once a permit is issued, the property owner is required to contact the sheriff’s department to notify them of the burn and nearby neighbors should also be warned.

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