SALT LAKE CITY — A very active fire season coupled with extreme drought prompted state fire officials to issue a stage one fire restriction across Utah on Wednesday. Now, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands (FFSL) tells FOX 13 stage two restrictions are likely if conditions do not improve.
"The likelihood of moving to stage two is very high at this time," said Jamie Barnes, interim director of FFSL. "If we continue to see the fire behavior as we are right now, then we are already talking about moving to stage two fire restrictions."
The current stage one restriction places strict limitations on where open fires are allowed, and it limits smoking to indoors only or on paved areas away from vegetation among other restrictions.
"Stage two incorporates all of stage one restrictions," Barnes added. "And then stage two just adopts that there is no campfires... at all."
Even though open fires are allowed in certain locations under stage one restrictions—like at designated fire pits at improved campgrounds—Barnes said all those heading out this weekend should think twice before huddling around a campfire.
"We would advise against all campfires at this time," she said.
Barnes said the FFSL looks at several factors when determining which restrictions are necessary.
"We are seeing unprecedented fire conditions right now, probably the driest conditions we've seen in thirty years," she added. "That's what led to entering stage one fire restrictions."
She said active red flag warnings are another key piece of data that fire officials look at. Currently, almost all of the state is under a red flag warning.
"We need people to use their head. We need people to be smart, we need you to pay attention to the chain on your trailer, we need you to pay attention to your vehicle," Barnes said. "We need you to pay attention to campfire. We need you to use fire sense."
With the majority of last year's fires caused by humans, campfires are a big concern for FFSL. They add that if you accidentally start a fire, you need to act quick to help put it out.
"Immediately call 911," Barnes added.
"Call your local authorities and get help on the way. It's unlikely that you're going to be able to extinguish that fire yourself so get someone there immediately, that's a professional."
She recommends bringing a shovel and extra water with you if you plan on having an open fire, adding that people need to take extra time to ensure there are no embers left burning when leaving a campsite.
The FFSL says that if drought conditions and fire activity do not improve, a stage two fire restriction will likely be put in place, "in the near future."
State Wildfire Resources