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Fire concern high as lightning and red flag warnings reported throughout Utah

Posted at 9:53 PM, Aug 29, 2020

Red flag warnings mixed with thunderstorms across southern and central Utah are causing concerns for fires after an exceedingly dry summer.

“Fuels are very dry. We’ve been lucky that we’ve caught the majority of fires small,” Kait Webb, The Statewide Prevention and Fire Communications Coordinator says “that includes the human-caused and the lightning starts fire agencies no matter what agency they work for have been working very hard this year.”

With the yearly monsoon storms that have been rolling through Utah, you’ve probably heard the thunder and seen the lightning but fire crews say they're causing a big concern.

In California, over a million acres have burned this year with the majority of the causes being lighting strikes.


Utah is no stranger to massive lightning-caused fires, with the Milford Flat Fire being lightning-caused in July of 2007. That fire holds the destination as the state's largest wildfire in history at over 363-thousand acres.

Current weekend conditions are being monitored closely to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“That's a concern with this storm system moving through right now is outflow winds. Any new starts we get will be pushed by those winds.” says Webb, “Weather is crucial for us to understand watching as those changes happen throughout the day and then predictions coming up.”

There are a few challenges when fighting lightning fires. They can occur in far-out, hard to reach locations, and that they can smolder for days before being noticed.

The rain that comes with lightning does make a difference.

"It's given us a little relief in some of those areas especially in southern Utah where we were seeing the record and near-record levels,” Webb said.

Webb praised crews' work this year, saying,“they've done an outstanding job at keeping fires small so they are not spreading and growing to those large incidents.”