Sandy • A unique visitor dropped by Dimple Dell Canyon Monday.
A hyper-maneuverable helicopter, called a Kaman K-Max, spent Monday clearing flammable trees and brush from the canyon in preparation for the upcoming fire season.
"It's quite a piece of machinery," said Jason Curry, a public information officer for the Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands. "We wouldn't be able to do this without it."
The bird is able to move in close areas and tow more than 3 tons. Its visit will be short, ending Tuesday, as it costs about $4,000 an hour to operate.
A $300,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service made it possible to finally remove the flammable brush from the 644-acre Dimple Dell Canyon; as a protected wildlife area, the city would not allow motorized vehicles into the ravine to tow the debris. Firefighters have spent more than 800 hours clearing 150 acres of brush by hand.
One of hundreds of targeted areas in Utah, Dimple Dell is a "wildland-urban interface," an area where residential and rural districts mix. The fire fuel reduction in the ravine is an ongoing effort to reduce the risk of embers jumping from forest to rooftop and setting houses ablaze during dry summer months.
Monday and Tuesday's operation is a joint effort of the National Forest Service, the Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands and Sandy City.
"This is a perfect example of how people can use what resources they have available to make their communities safer," said Craig Erickson, a Sandy firefighter and grant organizer. Erickson said the combination of federal, state and city services is the concept behind the Community Wildland Protection Plan, an initiative to cover at-risk communities such as Dimple Dell.
"It's all about being flexible," Erickson said. "The federal and state governments have the resources, and the city has the maneuverability to actually do what needs to be done."