UTAH (ABC4) – Despite battling record-setting drought conditions, fire officials in Utah are announcing a reduction in human-caused fires over the last year.

Giving its end-of-year report for 2021, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands Director Jamie Barnes applauded the efforts of many for cutting down on the number of preventable fires even as nearly the entire state served as a figurative tinder box, especially during the summer months.

The implementation of the Fire Sense awareness campaign may have served a key role in the state’s success, she notes.

“Leading out with messaging on wildfire prevention had never been so important in these times,” Barnes stated in a visual report published by the Division. “With nearly 100% of the state being in drought throughout the summer and 90% being in extreme drought, making Utahns aware of the conditions was extremely important.”

According to the report, 2021 saw a decrease of 62% fewer human-caused fires compared to 2020. That works out to 922 fewer fires than the year before.

While Barnes was grateful for the success, particularly from the messaging from government leaders during a precarious time for the state, she continued to say there is still a need to be vigilant.

“We must stay focused on the future and the increasing number of fires we are seeing nationwide…the interagency work being done such as Shared Stewardship, to reduce hazardous fuels and protect our watersheds is becoming increasingly more important, more work needs to be done on our landscapes.”