WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Utah officials expressed concern Monday after seeing an increase in human-caused wildfires in 2021.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Utah Forestry, Fire, and State Lands said that all of this year's 13 wildfires in northern Utah have been caused by humans.
Eight of the 13 wildfires were caused by target shooting, according to the BLM, while the other five were started by exploding targets.
“This year’s lack of precipitation in the West Desert and early increase in human-caused fires is concerning for wildfire officials, law enforcement, and land managers, said Geoff Wallin, BLM West Desert District Fire Management Officer. “Vegetation is drying out very quickly after each precipitation event and becoming receptive to ignition only a couple of days later, resulting in high fire potential conditions.”
It is illegal to possess or use any kind of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices such as pyrotechnics or fireworks on BLM-managed lands.
Those responsible for causing the wildfires are being pursued and will be charged.
Because of low precipitation this winter, dry conditions are found across the state while the use of public lands is increasing.
To prevent a wildfire, officials recommend the public should:
- Fully extinguish campfires and avoid building fires when winds are 15 mph or higher
- Choose a target shooting backstop free of rocks and dry grass – any bullet hitting rocks can create a spark.
- Avoid target shooting in during hot, dry, and windy conditions
- Know the laws and regulations per county that prohibit the use of fireworks, paper lanterns, exploding targets, and other incendiary devices. Such are prohibited year-round on BLM-managed lands.
- Seasonal Fire Prevention Orders and Fire Restrictions come in effect when conditions warrant such actions. Stay up-to-date on local orders and restrictions.
- Avoid cutting, welding, or grinding of metal in areas of dry vegetation
- Check to make sure trailer chains are not dragging and are secure to prevent sparks
- Fully extinguish and properly dispose of cigarettes
- Avoid parking a hot vehicle over dry grass
- Maintain tires, wheels, and bearing on trailers to prevent mechanical failure