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Dangerous fire season expected in Utah

Posted at 11:01 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 01:09:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Fire officials are concerned about an active wildfire season in Utah this year.

So far in 2020, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands reports 237 wildfires have been started in the state. That is about quadruple the 67 fires that were recorded by this time last year.

That number is especially alarming, because officials say 95 percent of the 237 wildfires have been caused by humans.

“None of these fires need to happen. All human-caused fires are preventable,” said Brian Cottam, the director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “All of the risk we put firefighters in and the public, it does not need to happen.”

Even without the threat of human-caused fires, this is shaping up to be an active fire season. This spring has been especially dry with very little precipitation since March. Forecasters predict much of the state will see above normal fire potential for June.

That’s why several federal and state agencies are joining forces to deliver a message about the importance of fire prevention.

Sparks from gunshots, cars, debris piles and campfires can lead to a devastating event.

“This coming weekend, we are looking at temperatures in the 90s. If we get strong winds, those abandoned campfires can spread quickly,” said Dave Whittekien with the U.S. Forest Service. “Do not leave a fire until it is cold out. Check it with your hands. Pour water on it. Make sure when you walk away it is cold.”

To increase awareness, the state has launched a website to educate the public on how to prevent starting a blaze.