TOOELE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – The Little Pass Fire in Tooele County is 70% contained as of Monday morning.
Tooele Fire Warden Dan Walton says the blaze was reported at 2 p.m. on Easter Sunday, adding that “resources will be seeking solid containment before the expected wind event on Monday, April 5th.”
By 5 p.m. Sunday, Utah Wildfire Information reported the Little Pass Fire had reached 1,500 acres. Four hours later, the fire was reported to be 70% contained.
As of 9 a.m. Monday, officials say the human-caused fire is estimated at 1,300 acres, with containment still estimated to be at 70%.
“Fire operations will focus on southern flank today, which is where the fire is still active,” Utah Wildfire reports.
As of Tuesday, the fire is now 100% contained.
This comes as Red Flag Warnings have been issued across the state. The National Weather Service says those warnings extend through the western portion of Beaver County south into Iron and Washington counties. Warnings are also in effect on the eastern side of the state, covering portions of Duchesne, Uintah, Carbon, Emery, Wayne, Garfield, and Grand counties.
What causes Utah’s wildfires
Over a ten-year average, about 60% of Utah’s wildfires were human-caused, according to Kaitlyn Webb, Statewide Prevention and Fire Communications Coordinator for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
In 2020, a record-breaking 77% of Utah’s wildfires were caused by humans. The top cause of fires in Utah is lightning, according to Webb, but that is quickly followed by fires caused by equipment, a human cause.
“That includes anything from a dragging chain, blown tire, a vehicle parking over dry grass, exhaust or brakes- so those types of starts are our second-highest cause but our highest human-caused start in the state,” Webb explains.
Other top causes include debris-burning, campfires, and miscellaneous, like cutting, welding, firearm use, and fireworks – all human-caused.
With four of Utah’s top five causes of wildfires being human-caused, here’s what can be done to prevent starting them in the first place. Webb says a good place to start is being aware and asking some questions, like how dry has it been, how windy is it, and others regarding the weather conditions.
What to do if you start a fire
“Immediately report it,” Webb says. “The quicker that fire resources are of aware of a start, the quicker they can respond, hopefully, the smaller they can keep the wildfire and the less risk there is.”
Staying on the scene to answer questions as firefighters arrive can also be very helpful, Webb states.
Webb says if you came prepared with the right equipment, such as a fire extinguisher, water, or shovel, you can try to put it out without placing yourself at risk.
“The first step is really making sure you have the right equipment when you’re out and about doing whatever it is you may be doing.”
To prevent wildfires caused by campfires, make sure to follow these three steps: drown, stir, and feel. Webb says pouring water on a campfire is not enough. Stirring water into the ashes can release heat that can build up and work its way back to the surface.
“If it’s cool enough to touch, then it’s cool enough to leave,’ she explains.
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