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Sandy crews work to stop wildfires before they start

By Jed Boal | Posted - Apr 8th, 2013 @ 10:19pm


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During wildfire season, Utah residents across the state often see helicopters dropping water. Monday, a workhorse specialty helicopter pulled brush from Dimple Dell Canyon in Sandy to get ahead of fire season.

"We're thinning it out," said Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. "We're getting rid of some of the buildup, so that if and when a fire does happen, it's not only easier to fight, but it doesn't spread so quickly and become catastrophic."

Workers stacked up a mountain of brush and trees, and will continue the job Tuesday. If someone is careless with fire in the park, those fuels will no longer be part of the problem.

Fires have scorched the canyon before. But homes above the park have dodged extensive damage, while brush and other fuels built up down in the canyon.

"It's very concerning," Curry said. "We have a lot of situations like this throughout the state. There are hundreds of communities that are at risk for wildfire."

Sandy has been identified as a "community at risk," so Sandy firefighters are using a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service to clear out Russian olives, Siberian elms and brush that has already burned before.

"We're removing some of the trees in here to prevent some of the bigger fires from occurring, and to give us a better opportunity to control the fires ahead of time," said Craig Erickson, a Sandy firefighter working on the project.

"If we can do a fuel reduction project like this, it helps us ahead of time," he said.

Hand crews spent roughly 800 hours across 150 acres of the park, cutting down the brush and spraying to control future growth. The firefighters also urge residents to clear brush and other fuels from around their homes and create defensible space.

"Those two things together will make it so the whole community is safer; and our goal will be accomplished," Curry said.

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