Governor urges caution during fire season

Posted at 12:58 PM, Jun 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-14 20:40:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Gary Herbert is urging Utahns to demonstrate extreme caution as Utah's fire season begins.

The warning comes as a deadly wildfire burns in Colorado. Two people have died and hundreds of homes have been burned in what is being called the most destructive fire in Colorado history.

"The governor told me today they may lose 450 homes in Colorado Springs. These are all very upscale homes, probably a million dollar homes, so there's a tremendous loss in property value and as you all know we've already lost some lives in there," Herbert said.

With hot, dry, windy weather, fire danger is high, and Utah has already seen several small wildfires in southern Utah all the way up to Saratoga Springs in Utah County.

"It kind of bears upon all of us that we're coming into the fire season," Herbert said.

Last season saw hundreds of thousands of acres burned across the state, including the Wood Hollow Fire that destroyed 52 homes and killed one person.

Nearly half of the 1,500 wildfires Utah saw last year were man-made, and officials are asking residents to be safe this year, paying attention to weather conditions and the landscape.

"The cheat grass has grown exponentially in Utah. It's vastly overgrown so many areas where it hadn't been before," said state forester Dick Buehler. "The inability of the Forest Service to manage things the way they'd like to because of challenges they get from certain groups. So we've set ourselves up for a disaster. We're seeing that all over the west."