MOUNTAIN GREEN, Utah (ABC4) – A small fire caused by an off-course model rocket is prompting a reminder to “use your head when playing near dry fields when windy” as all of Utah experiences severe drought levels.
On Thursday, a fire was sparked near Kent Smith Park by the model rocket, the Mountain Green Fire Protection District reports.
“Quick action by passers-by held the fire in check until your firefighters arrived,” officials say.
An older man, who had come to help before crews arrived, sustained some smoke inhalation. Mountain Green Fire Protection District says the man was treated on scene before being transported to an area hospital for non-life-threatening conditions.
Mountain Green Fire Protection District shared the below photos of scene, showing the area the fire covered.
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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