Utah Gov., fire agencies urge Utahns to change fire behavior in record wildfire year during drought

Utah Wildfire
File Photo: Gephardt DailyPatrick Benedict

UTAH, May 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah wildfires in 2021 already number 2.6 times last years’ total, and of the current 227 burns this year, all but eight were human caused, according to a coalition of state fire agencies.

Governor Cox and interagency fire leadership are asking the public to change their behavior to decrease human-caused wildfires.

“More human-caused wildfires inevitably lead to more threats to lives and property. Given Utah’s current drought conditions, it’s more important than ever this fire season to be cautious with fire and with anything that can cause fire,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive director Brian Steed.

“We absolutely can’t afford to continue this trend of increasing human-caused wildfires that we have seen in the state over the last few years.”

Last year Utah set a record for human-caused wildfires of 1,143 out of 1,482 total, according a statement from the group.

For context, were are numbers of wildfires and acres burned at this point in the spring this year compared to previous years:

  • 2021: 227 wildfires & 8,400 acres burned
  • 2020: 86 wildfires & 804 acres burned
  • 2019: 65 wildfires & 73 acres burned
  • 2018: 184 wildfires & 2,080 acres burned
  • 2017: 87 wildfires & 646 acres burned
  • 2016: 96 wildfires & 174 acres burned
  • See details below, please reach out with any questions.

A pubic campaign being launched to combat the problem is called “Fire Sense.” It’s goal is to “educate the public and empower them to make fire sense decisions that will drive down the number of human-caused wildfires, the statement.

It notes that 100% of the state is in drought, with 90% of the state in extreme drought, and fires already stand at 227 for the season, with almost all human caused.

The governor and fire agencies urge Utah’s to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Equipment: Whether you are working, recreating or traveling be aware that any equipment can cause a fire. Be mindful of your surroundings. Maintenance of tires, brakes and exhaust is a simple and crucial preventative measure. Never park on or drive over dry vegetation. Ensure that chains are not dragging from vehicles.
  • Campfires: Keep fires a manageable size. Never leave a fire unattended. Have adequate water available and extinguish campfires using the Drown, Stir, and Feel method.
  • Debris burning: Be aware of current and predicted weather and fuel conditions; don’t burn on windy days. Make the proper notifications and be prepared to suppress the fire if needed.
  • Target shooting: Be aware of current weather and fuel conditions, especially Red Flag Warnings. Use safe ammunition and targets and find an appropriate backdrop void of rocks and vegetation. Have a shovel and water or a fire extinguisher with you. Only shoot in areas where legally allowed.
  • Exploding targets: Only use in legal areas, exploding targets aren’t allowed on most public lands (never on Bureau of Land Management lands). Never use near dry vegetation.
  • Fireworks: Only use during legal dates and in legally allowed areas. Fireworks are prohibited on all public lands.
  • Be aware of current conditions and act accordingly:

o   Check for fire restrictions.

o   Watch for Red Flags Warnings.


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