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Utah 911 calls make big jump during wildfire smoke invasion

Smoke Haze.jpg
Posted at 4:32 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 18:32:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah emergency dispatch centers were inundated with phone calls to 911 when a massive wave of wildfire smoke crept into the northern part of the state Friday.

PHOTOS: Smoke causes hazy conditions across Utah

As the smoke moved in with shocking speed, along with the unmistakable smell of fire, a large portion of Uthans believed fires were raging nearby and wanted to alert emergency responders.

The Utah County Sheriff's Office received a large number of calls from concerned residents. Dispatchers referred callers to media and weather reports that explained that the smoke was coming from out-of-state wildfires.

Centerville police said they were "getting overwhelmed" with calls about the smoke that was actually coming from California and Oregon. The department sympathized with residents, but added, "unfortunately, we are unable to change the jet stream."

Gov. Spencer Cox took to Twitter to urge residents not to deluge 911 with calls, writing "Yea, please don’t call 911 for the smoke you are seeing."

READ: Salt Lake City air quality ranks among worst on the planet

A supervisor with Davis County dispatch says the department received a larger number of calls around 10 a.m. when the smoke began to blanket the area. Officers checked out the reported areas just in case the calls were for legitimate fires.