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Firefighters have saved over 99% of homes threatened by wildfires in Utah this year

Posted at 8:56 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 23:22:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- With new wildfires popping up daily across Utah, firefighters continue to work tirelessly to extinguish flames.

According to state fire officials, an estimated $20 million has been spent on inter-agency suppression costs from nearly 800 wildfires reported to five dispatch centers across the state in 2020.

“2020 has been a really busy fire season. The numbers are up,” said Jason Curry, spokesman for Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “The biggest thanks we can give our firefighters right now is just a well-deserved break, so be careful with the fireworks, the campfires, the target shooting. Make sure that your vehicles and your trailers are all maintained well.”

More than 5,000 homes have been threatened by wildfires in Utah this year. According to Curry, four homes have been destroyed.

“There have been some really epic saves in terms of very decisive decision making by firefighters collaborating,” said Curry. "The level of training is higher, the amount of experience that those fire departments get on out-of-state incidents is also pretty impressive."

Curry says that training and experience is key to effectively protecting Utahns' homes.

"A lot of that is done beforehand, so when we have to make a decision, those individuals look at each other, they know and have confidence in one another that the experience is there, the decision making is sound and there’s really not a lot of debate or back and forth that has to be done," he said.

The Knolls Fire, which started on June 28 in Saratoga Springs, forced nearly 13,000 residents to evacuate from 3,100 homes. Firefighters were able to save every home except for one, which was located on the outskirts of town.

“That fire was so wind-driven that it traveled seven miles in less than an hour,” said Deputy Fire Chief Kenny Johnson with the City of Saratoga Springs. “The severity of the fire and the stress that was placed upon the fire fighters to save these homes and they performed exceptionally well.”

Fire officials emphasized the importance of residents taking preventative measures by creating defensive space around their property and homes.

The learn more about wildland urban interface and preparing your home to better withstand a wildfire, click here.