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Here are the types of fuels to look out for as high temps pump up fire danger

Posted at 9:15 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 23:40:31-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- With more hot and dry weather on the way, fire crews are sharing a high fire danger warning following a number of human-caused blazes in recent weeks and two on Tuesday alone.

“Fighting about a 3-acre fire that’s pushing really hard to the West,” Ryan Love with the Unified Fire Authority said as sirens and messages boomed from his radio.

“Our crews are battling that fire and trying to get on top of it before anything bad happens,” he continued as he described a now-contained brush fire that was edging out homes in Eagle Mountain.

This was the second fire he responded to Tuesday. The first, another brush fire that came up to the side of the highway in Murray.

In recent weeks, they have seen even more — many of which started from campfires that were not extinguished properly, target shooters using exploding targets and other preventable causes.

“About nine out of ten wildfires are actually human caused,” said Love.

Now, in the midst of an already dry summer, they are expecting more fires as temperatures continue to climb.

“There’s a ton of red flag warnings,” Love said. “We’ll start seeing more and more as it gets hotter and hotter.”

UFA says it is crucial for Utahns to know what types of fuels to look out for — four in particular.

“Juniper, this can put off about a 25 to 30-foot flame when it’s ignited,” Love said as he pointed out foliage at the Mount Olympus Trailhead outside of Salt Lake City.

“This is cheatgrass right here, this fuel’s actually quite continuous throughout the whole Wasatch Front,” he continued as he plucked a few brown pieces from the ground.

“We’ve got oak brush… we also have this sagebrush just right behind me right here,” he said. “This stuff burns really, really hot.”

The area around Love looked relatively green, but he said it will quickly turn more brown and more dangerous.

“As the temperatures start rising, it will start dying off and become more explosive,” said Love.

Making it all the more important for Utahns to recognize the fuels and, most importantly, being attentive whether you are camping, shooting, lighting fireworks or otherwise.

“Just being diligent and mindful that when you are around these areas where there’s light, fleshy fuels, that you pay attention to what you’re doing,” said Love.

Starting Wednesday, June 24, Utahns will be able to buy fireworks for use during the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day holidays.

Fireworks may only be set off between July 2-5 and again from July 22-25. Shooting off fireworks outside of the approved dates and times can result in a fine up to $1,000.

Utahns can find a new, Interactive Firework Restrictions Map on UFA’s website.