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Recent rainfall reduces fire danger in Utah, but experts still urge caution on holiday weekend

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Posted at 6:20 PM, May 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-22 20:20:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Thanks to all of the recent rain, the wildfire danger in Utah is low right now--but that doesn't mean we're in the clear for the entire season.

Jason Curry with the Utah Division of Forestry said the heavy rainfall in May has given fire crews a break. But more rain now means more growth for wildfire fuel.

“We're going to be in trouble when these grasses dry out and we have fire,” Curry said.

He added: “If we were to light that, it would catch on fire as soon as things dry out and the rains stop. That whole hillside is going to look just like that, it will be super dry."

And it's a problem that will literally keep growing.

“If we don't get another drop of rain, we'll be 180 percent above normal at the airport, but most area in the state is showing above normal precipitation for the month of May,” said Michael Conger, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

But Utahns know all too well the rainy days won't last forever

“Typically we see that transition in early, mid-June when we get into our dry typical summer pattern,” Conger said.

That's when fire crews expect the fire season to finally heat up.

“It's a big hazard, and we'll see fires that are in these grasses that are sometimes waist-high,” Curry said.

Fire officials want to remind everyone going out for the Memorial Day weekend that even though the fire danger won't be high, a fire can easily be sparked--especially around the campsite, so they want to remind everyone to use extra caution.