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Millcreek Journal

Millcreek chips away at fire danger one dead branch at a time

Oct 01, 2022 07:52PM ● By Jolene Croasmun

By Jolene Croasmun | [email protected]

With record high temperatures this past summer along with continued drought conditions, fire danger was, and still is, high. By removing and chipping the dry debris from residential areas, people can help reduce the damage caused by wildfires. And that job was made easier during Millcreek’s annual Chipper Days in August.

Andrew Clark, emergency manager for Millcreek, said, “Following two wildfires in 2020 and one in 2021, fire mitigation along the urban-wildland area has been the focus of emergency management agencies.” Chipper Days is sponsored by Millcreek Emergency Management, the Unified Fire Authority, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands along with the Mount Olympus Community Council.

The urban-wildland area is located in the neighborhoods above Wasatch Boulevard and the properties that border the wilderness areas near Grandeur Peak and Mount Olympus.

This was a prevention activity that involved residents and local officials helping to reduce the occurrence of wildfires by preparing homes and yards to withstand an ember attack (when burning debris becomes temporarily airborne and is carried by the winds in a cluster) and minimizing the likelihood of a fire spreading to the home. Ember attacks are one of the main ways homes catch on fire during wildfires.  

Homes can ignite much more quickly due to the condition of the property and surrounding area up to 200 feet from the foundation. This area is called the home ignition zone.

People living in the mapped area were encouraged to dispose of heavy accumulations of ground debris, dead plant and tree material and vegetation under wood decks, stairs and porches. The natural vegetation piles were placed along the street by Aug. 7.

“The UFA worked from Monday through Thursday clearing and chipping away at 90 individual piles of debris and that this equated to more than 100 cubic yards of vegetative waste,” Clark said.

The debris was converted to green waste or given to residents that requested the chipped material.

Clark said that Chipper Days will continue to be held annually and he added, “We will move the event farther west, should it be deemed necessary.”

David Baird, chair of the Mount Olympus Community Council commented on the council’s involvement and said, “The MOCC has increased residential awareness of the direct and imminent risk of wildfires potentially decimating our community. Every proactive step we can take to minimize dry fuels for wildfires in turn lowers our entire community’s risk of a catastrophic event.”

In regards to Chipper Days, Baird said, “The residents along the wildland interface have greatly appreciated this annual effort. We thank the UFA and Millcreek City for dedicating time and resources to help us maintain our community by lowering our serious risk of a devastating forest fire.”