Experts say hot, dry conditions in Utah mean increased fire danger for 2016

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 22:46:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hot temperatures, dry air and heavy winds mean that wild fire season is here.

The U.S. Forest Service said there have already been dozens of fires across the state, and they are preparing for many more. Thursday, a wildfire broke out on about 1,000 acres in Juab County.

“We fight fire in Utah as good as anybody, anybody in the west,” State Forester Brian Cottam said.

Cottam, along with firefighters from across the state, were confident on Thursday. They are ready for wildfire season, but they are also asking for the public’s help.

“There are two kinds of fires, there is human caused and there is naturally caused, and we can only have an impact on the human caused ones, so being careful out there is probably the biggest thing people can do,” said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forestry and State Lands.

The U.S. Forest Service said 50 percent of wildfires are caused by humans, most commonly involving campfires, fireworks, cigarettes and vehicles coming into contact with dry grass.

“People have lost their lives in Utah from wildfire, so we have to be careful, prevention is key, and mitigating those fuels is a key,” Curry said.

While most wildfires occur on remote, public lands, no place is immune—including your backyard.

“Cleaning out those rain gutters, moving wood piles, trimming vegetation, getting rid of the overgrowth, things like that, that will go a long way,” Curry said.

The last few summers, the amount of wildfires has been below average in Utah, but this year firefighters are expecting a busier workload.

“Fuels are drying out more quickly than they did last year at this time, so we are expecting more fire activity,” Curry said.

The Website keeps track of locations around the country that are most vulnerable to wildfire. California and Arizona are most at risk, but Utah is not far behind.

“You see it on the news right now in California, they have a fire going, and you look at the terrain, we live in that same terrain,” said David Ulibarri with Unified Fire Authority.