Salt Lake City

Parks & Public Lands

Phone: (801)535-7800 Email: parks@slcgov.com

Columbus Court Fire

Photo showing the aftermath of the Columbus Court Fire (September 2018)

On July 25th 2018, a fire broke out in a neighborhood above the Salt Lake City Capitol burning approximately 50 acres of Open Space Land. After the fire, Kevin Bajenburch of the National Weather Service, cautioned residents that there could be a significant risk of flooding as a result of the fire, particularly to the basements of surrounding homes. Johanna Stangland, one of our amazing Natural Lands Supervisors, coordinated an effort with Tom Simons (SLC Fire Emergency Management Coordinator), Kevin Barjenbruch (National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist), and a Columbus Ct. resident to help respond to the impacts of the Columbus Court Fire.

Kelly Brown, Salt Lake City Public Utilities, Storm-water Manager, and Johanna Stangland met on-site to discuss sandbag placement and to determine other measures that could be taken to mitigate the flood risk. Four pallets of sandbags were delivered to Columbus Court residents for placement. With the help of family and friends, and under the direction of Salt Lake City staff, the sandbags were strategically placed throughout the neighborhood around window wells and at basement doorways. Additionally, residents worked with SLC 911 Dispatch to set up a flood warning system for the area. There was no report of flooding after the recent rains.

After this initial flood mitigation response, Johanna continues to work on long-term rehabilitation plans. So far she has contacted the Division of Natural Resources, Wasatch Area Fire Management Office and Wasatch Area Wild-land Urban Interface Coordinator. They have provided some links to literature on post-fire erosion control and rehabilitation treatments. She is reaching out to the Idaho Bureau of Land Management, whose primary work is wildfire land rehabilitation, in the hopes of getting some help. Lastly she is researching effective treatments and best practices for re-vegetation.

People living in the urban-wild-land interface are encouraged to follow guidelines for ignition resistant landscapes and buildings and to provide fuel buffers between homes and fire-prone natural lands. The Fire Department can offer specific suggestions. Salt Lake City Trails and Natural Lands program recommends creating a defensible space around your home, planting only fire-wise vegetation in landscaping your property, and avoiding ladder fuels (progressively tall vegetation) that could allow the fire to move into taller trees.

Johanna is an incredibly accomplished, talented, and dedicated employee. We are lucky to have her.

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