Frightened by the prospect of mountain wildfires spreading to fast-growing subdivisions, the city has banned stylish wooden-shingle roofs in certain high-dollar parts of town.

"Our hope would be that others would take note of this growing environmental problem and do something about it before we have a Southern California kind of situation and end up biting it big-time," said fire marshal Ron Ivie.Ivie and other city officials said some areas of Park City, including Deer Valley - winter playground of the rich and famous - are vulnerable to fires similar to the ones that charred California neighborhoods at Malibu and Laguna Beach this fall.

And they invoke the memory of a 1990 blaze at nearby Midway that killed two firefighters, destroyed 18 homes in the rural Swiss Oaks subdivision and forced the evacuation of 300 residents.

"About all the buildings that are still there did not have wooden roofs," said Ivie. "All the wood-roof buildings burned."

City Manager Toby Ross said the ban triggered "some concerns from the architectural community," but roofers presented them with alternatives to wooden "shake shingles," including concrete-based substitutes that look like the real thing but are fire-resistant.

Stylish wooden shingles are the roofing material of choice in the resort town.

Fire Chief Kelly Gee said several consecutive years of drought have helped create conditions that have kindled major blazes on the back side of the Wasatch Mountains almost every fire season. A construction boom compounds the threat.

"As development occurs, the risk is greater," said Gee.

Ivie said though the potential for wildfires is serious in Park City, it is less significant than Southern California's.

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"Two things make us different. We don't have the human density yet, but we're working toward it, obviously. And our weather is just a little bit better."

On average, Ivie said, Park City has about nine days a year in which the worst tinderbox conditions occur, with high winds, hot temperatures and dry grasslands and forests.

He noted that for the past decade Park City has required all buildings in its most fire-vulnerable neighborhoods to have indoor fire sprinklers.

The wooden-shingle ban applies to new structures and to all reroofing projects in the areas affected. The ordinance is similar to one enforced in Emigration Canyon by Salt Lake County.

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