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December 15, 2011 9:22 am

House at fairgrounds to burn this weekend

Written by Tessa Schweigert

If you see flames and plumes of smoke billowing at the Park County Fairgrounds on Saturday, don’t be alarmed.

The Powell Volunteer Fire Department will burn the old manager’s house and garage at the fairgrounds this weekend if the weather cooperates and everything goes as planned.

Park County Commissioners found no takers when they tried to sell the house to the highest bidder earlier this year. They also tried to salvage items from the house, but folks from Powell Valley Recycling didn’t find anything they could reuse. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore also may look at the building this week before it’s burned.

The county and fair board decided to stop providing a residence for the fair manager following Steve Scott’s resignation last summer.

Fire Chief Joey Darrah said he can only recall two times when firemen have torched a house in a controlled burn within city limits, making this an unusual scenario.

“We don’t make a practice of burning buildings in town,” Darrah told the Powell City Council last week. He sought the council’s blessing for the burn, which councilmen unanimously gave the department.

Unlike most homes in city limits, the fairgrounds residence is fairly isolated, Darrah said. No homes or other buildings are close to the residence, so it’s unlikely flames will spread to any other structure.

“We don’t have to worry about traffic control either, with it in the middle of the fairgrounds,” he said.

The house is on a concrete slab, so firemen don’t have to worry about going through the floor during training exercises. Firemen will conduct multiple training drills in the structure, Darrah said.

“It’s a really valuable opportunity for us to train in a real life fire,” Darrah said.

However, if Mother Nature throws unfavorable conditions at firemen on Saturday, the burn will be postponed.

“If there’s a heavy wind, we won’t burn,” Darrah said.

The county already has removed asbestos siding from the house in preparation for the blaze. After firemen burn down the structure and put out all the flames, the county will clean up the remains. As with any fire, it’s possible to have rekindling later on, so the site will be closely monitored, Darrah said.

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