Quinn's Junction blaze extinguished, fire season continues
Electrocuted bird caused the blaze, flames extend five feet into the air
Jay Hamburger The Park Recordparkrecord.com
Posted: 09/18/2012 05:14:37 PM MDT


Click photo to enlargeA Sunday fire burned grass and sage at Quinn's Junction. Firefighters contained the blaze within...1A fire charred approximately three acres of grass and sage at Quinn's Junction on Sunday, continuing what has been one of the area's worst fire seasons in years.

Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said the fire broke out at sometime between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. close to the northwest corner of the U.S. 40-S.R. 248 interchange.

Firefighters from the Park City Fire District contained the fire within 30 to 45 minutes. Boyer, who also responded, said the flames were between two and five feet tall. The firefighters remained at the scene until approximately 5 p.m. extinguishing hot spots.

Boyer said a bird was electrocuted by a power line and fell to the ground, starting the fire.

Boyer said the fire was between 210 and 240 feet away from the closest structure -- the Summit County Health Department building -- and there was a two-lane asphalt road between the fire and the building. The Health Department was not open at the time.

The Park City Police Department said in an online statement buildings in the vicinity were given notices that an evacuation could be ordered. The buildings included the Park City Medical Center, the Park City Ice Arena and the National Ability Center. No evacuation was ordered, though.

The Fire District said 21 firefighters responded -- 18 from its own department and three from departments in Summit County. The Fire District sent three engines, three trucks designed to fight brush fires and two vehicles carrying water.

The Sunday blaze broke out even as the weather has cooled in the fall. It was the latest in a string of fires in the area since the summer. The Fire District by early August had responded to approximately 80 wildfires, and the total has climbed since that figure was publicized.

The conditions in 2012 have been dangerous since early in the summer. Fire officials say the heavy snows in the 2010-2011 winter left abundant moisture for trees and other plants to continue to grow this year, providing fuel for wildfires. There were also dry stretches during this summer that helped create the tinderbox conditions.

A government website that tracks wildfires in the state by Tuesday morning indicated there had been 1,453 blazes spreading through 466,198 acres of land in 2012. The Fox Bay fire along the Jordanelle Reservoir in August was the year's most devastating one in the Park City area. There were fears that the fire could jump U.S. 40 and spread toward Deer Valley before it was contained.

The smoky haze in the Park City area early in the week was not caused by the Quinn's Junction fire. Hugh Daniels, who manages City Hall's emergency services, said fires in American Fork Canyon, in Tooele County, along Utah Lake and in Idaho sent smoke toward the area, creating the haze.

Daniels, who works closely with fire officials, said the wildfire risk in the Park City area continues to be high. He said the danger is as high now as it was in the summer, noting that the daytime temperatures continue to be warm and there has been little rain in recent weeks. He said wildfires in the fall in the northern section of Utah occur regularly.

Fire and emergency officials have said the wildfire danger in the Park City area will continue until snow has covered the ground.

"I wish we were done, but we aren't," Daniels said.