High fire danger prompts restrictions in Northern Utah

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Salt Lake Field Office implemented fire restrictions on BLM-managed lands in Salt Lake, Utah, Tooele, Box Elder, Cache, Rich, Weber, Morgan, Davis, Summit, and Wasatch counties.

The implementation which began on July 20, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. was set due to “current and forecasted weather coupled with extremely dry vegetation throughout northern which Utah have created hazardous fire conditions, according to BLM.”

“This year, the BLM West Desert District has seen a 30% increase in human-caused fires, and over 60,000 acres of BLM-managed lands have already burned,” said BLM West Desert District Fire Management Officer Geoff Wallin. “We are seeing fuels at critical dryness and fire behavior that spreads very quickly, which can threaten the public and our firefighters. We urge the public to take notice of fire officials’ warnings and adhere to fire restrictions to help prevent large, catastrophic human-caused fires.”

Wind-driven fire quickly spreads to thousands of acres in Box Elder County

The Fire Prevention Order prohibits the following acts, according to BLM:

  1. Use of any steel core, jacketed, and tipped ammunition of any caliber between June 15 and September 30 each year.
  2. Campfires except within agency provided fire grates at developed campgrounds, or within fully enclosed stoves, grills, or in stoves using pressurized liquid or gas.
  3. Smoking cigarettes, except within an enclosed vehicle, building, developed recreation site or while stopped in a cleared area of at least three feet in diameter that is barren and cleared of all flammable material.
  4. Grinding, cutting, and welding of metal.
  5. Operating a chainsaw, or other internal combustion engine without a properly installed USDA or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) approved spark arresting device, a five-pound fire extinguisher and a shovel.
  6. Use of any tracer or incendiary ammunition of any caliber.
  7. Possession or use of any kind of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices, pyrotechnics or fireworks, or exploding targets.
  8. Use of any sky lanterns, paper lanterns, fire balloons, acetylene balloons or similar devices.
  9. Use of any off-road vehicle (ORV) that is not equipped with a properly installed and maintained spark arrestor. Spark arresters shall meet the 80 percent efficiency level standard when determined by the appropriate SAE recommended practices J335 and J350. (Title 43 CFR § 8343.1).

Officials say the restrictions mirror the BLM Fillmore Field Office restrictions in Juab and Millard counties that went into effect on July 13, 2020. Visitors to Utah’s West Desert are asked to help by heeding these restrictions and practicing fire safety while enjoying their public lands.

The BLM recommends completely extinguishing campfires, disposing of cigarettes properly, staying on established roads and trails to avoid dry brush and grass, choosing target shooting backstops free of rocks and vegetation, and ensuring trailer chains do not drag or create sparks.

Utah fire season experts have posted a seasonal outlook for July – October 2020 which warns of drought conditions through the remainder of the month and drying out of heavier fuels. Wallin reminds the public that monsoon season traditionally brings lightning, which increases the potential for fire starts.

Being fire-aware helps prevent wildfires, keep families safe, and reduces unnecessary risk to firefighters. Public land visitors are advised to be prepared with a shovel, water, and fire extinguisher, according to officials.

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