PROVO (ABC4News) – Wildfires like the Alaska fire this week can be terrifying when they get so close to homes, but they can also be a useful tool in preventing larger fires later.
Jason Curry is with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and said prescribed burns work, but they’re hard to sell. He explained, “There’s a lot of opposition especially when you’ve got respiratory issues, inversions.”
Chris Alexander’s home was one of the closest to the blaze; he said they were about to start loading their trailer to evacuate when the hot-shot crews came in and saved the day.
“Firefighters are doing their thing, Utah knows how to handle fire, it’s not around houses, they let it burn obviously and clear out the brush and whatnot.”
After protecting people and property, officials say it’s often cheaper and safer, in the long run, to allow a fire to burn down any build-up of brush and grass.
Curry said, “Prescribed fire and managing prescribed fire is a whole lot less costly than fighting wildfire.” In 2018, agencies carried out about 22,000 acres of prescribed burns but more than 430,000 acres of wildfires burned.
Curry explained, “People have to have a serious paradigm shift here in Utah to realize that all fire could be potentially good for the ecosystem.”
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