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Brighton Estates blaze highlights challenges fighting fires in remote areas

A weekend fire in the Brighton Estates neighborhood in Wasatch County destroyed a cabin. In winter months there’s a different strategy to fight fire.  

Over the Deer Valley ridgeline, late Friday afternoon, a plume of dark smoke could be seen for miles. A cabin in the remote Brighton Estates area was burning.

According to Jason Provost, assistant deputy chief of the Wasatch Fire District, by the time they arrived 40 minutes after receiving a call, the home was fully engulfed and the roof had collapsed.

“So prevention is the biggest key in remote areas like that," he said. "We do not have apparatus to go up in those remote areas at all, or any type of structure as far as water or anything along those lines. Most of the time, by the time we get there, the fire is at an incipient stage, that it is tough to fight that fire by the time we've reached those areas.”

Wasatch County Search & Rescue

Provost said it’s up to homeowners to protect property in remote areas where water isn’t available. He said fire engines can’t access structures where there are no roads. Brighton Estates is only accessible by snowmobile in winter.

“As far as prevention ahead of time, just making sure that homeowners are prepared making sure they're checking on their cabins regularly, don't have anything plugged into extension cords or making sure that all appliances that are flame propane driven are clean, they've got plenty of space around them, things that can help them that they can do personally to help their cabins be fire-safe and fire-wise.”

Provost said most of the cabins in Brighton Estates are spread out. Properties can be as large as an acre. Space helps mitigate the spread of fire; however, propane tanks are always of concern.

“And so the first thing we do is try to make sure that the propane tanks are cooled down so that they don't blow up. This homeowner had placed some wood slats up and it definitely protected the propane tank from the heat of the fire," Provost said. "So it actually benefited not having direct heat or flame impingement on that propane tank.”

Bridgette and Matt Meinhold live in Brighton Estates. Matt is captain of the Park City Fire District. They live next door to the home that caught fire and acknowledged that remote living poses challenges.

“We bought the property knowing that there were certain inherent risks," he said. "We're not blind to the fact that, you know, there's not a water source up there. But I've lived up there for 22 years and we really haven't needed one until, you know, last night or a few nights ago when the place burned to the ground.”

And while many homeowners in high fire risk areas have been dropped by insurance companies, the Meinholds have held onto theirs.

“We certainly do pay more than your average homeowner but we definitely have insurance," he said.

The couple both expressed condolences to their neighbors who lost the cabin. And also, some gratitude.

“I just like to add big thanks to the Wasatch County Fire Department for their efforts and coming up and for their service and their diligence in it," Bridgette said. "There was the Assistant Deputy Chief, Jason Provost, Provost spent the night up there to ensure that the fire was contained and that it did not spread and we are so very grateful that he spent the night up there in the cold.”

At the time of this report, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

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