Mitt Romney visits Park City area fire zone, praising efforts to put out blaze

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez explains the response to the Parleys Canyon fire during a country tour on Friday with Park City Fire District Chief Bob Zanetti, Sen. Mitt Romney and Kelsey Berg, who is the senator’s deputy chief of staff. Romney then stressed the importance of the availability of firefighting resources in the event of a fire like the recent one.
Tanzi Propst / Park Record

Senator Mitt Romney on Friday visited the country where the Parleys Canyon fire burned on the edge of Summit County earlier in August, later describing that the successes in fighting the blazes were the result of efforts that “all came together almost perfectly – the positive storm, if you will, instead of the negative storm.

Romney in an interview with The Park Record credited the work that has been undertaken over time in preparation for a terrible fire like the recent one. He said vegetation that posed a forest fire threat had been addressed earlier and there were readily available firefighting resources.

“Where you had a reduction in the fuel load that had been done by the community. You had planes nearby. You had airstrips nearby. You had tanks nearby. All of those things helped save these homes, ”Romney said near the Summit Park fire hall.

Romney spoke with representatives from the Park City Fire District and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. Both agencies were instrumental in the response, which included fighting the fires as well as the evacuation of Summit Park, Pinebrook and Timberline.

“It was really smart for people to evacuate when asked to do so, because it could have potentially saved structures, saved lives and kept firefighters from being in danger,” he said. declared.

The senator underlined the availability of the means of fighting fires, in particular the planes which released the fire retardant. The fire spread over mountainous terrain and to the edge of Interstate 80, making it more difficult to fight from the ground. He said the availability of firefighting planes soon after the fire started was a key. He noted the involvement of planes from Hill Air Force Base and Idaho.

“Within two hours of the fire starting, there were federal planes equipped with fire retardants that were able to come here and help extinguish this area of ​​concern. It’s essential, ”he said.

Romney said future planning for the wildfire fight should involve additional planes.

“One of the lessons here is, OK, we’ve learned that more flame retardant planes that can be recovered in a timely manner makes a real difference. So we’re probably going to need more planes. We’re going to need early warning systems. We’re going to need a lot better coordination between state, local and federal resources, “he said.

Discussions should also focus on where firefighting planes are kept and whether there are places that require more resources, he said.

“We’re probably going to have to park more places where planes are available, where they can catch fire as they explode so that they don’t become massive conflagrations of such magnitude as there is no way to manage them, ”he said.

Romney, meanwhile, spoke about the importance of tackling the amount of vegetation that can burn in a wildfire, known as fuel.

“This is part of the extinguishing of the fires. The other is to prevent them from burning uncontrollably and that means programs to reduce the fuel load. And we really did a pretty bad job of thinking about how to do it, ”he said.

The senator said the fire area, which is highly visible off the highway, will continue to be a problem even after the fire is extinguished.

“There is a lot of damage, as you can imagine. And there is going to be an impact on the watershed, and there is going to be an effort to clean up the area to make sure that we don’t have any additional destruction that is simply due to the fact that the water is not stopped by trees and other plants, ”he said.

Romney predicted that fires in the future will be the result of global warming.

“Given climate change, we are going to see more forest fires and we will have to do a better job of cutting them down before they destroy more structures and cost human lives,” he said.

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