UTAH (ABC4) – With a record number of fires burning across Utah this year, constantly impacting the air quality, ever wonder how these fires are started in the first place?

Utah Fire Info has released the most common causes of wildfires in Utah and unfortunately, many of them are human-caused.

The top culprits of human-caused wildfires in Utah during 2021 are:

  • Vehicles/equipment – 184 incidents – These fires can be caused by dragging chains, blown tires, and parking on dry vegetation.
  • Debris burning – 98 incidents – Fire officials say the best way to ensure your debris doesn’t spark another wildfire is to keep the piles small, follow the 4-foot rule and don’t burn on hot, dry, or windy days.
  • Campfires – 36 incidents – Campfires remain one of the most preventable causes of fires. Officials say the best practices involving campfires are never leaving a campfire unattended and always ensuring a fire is dead before leaving. When in doubt, use this rule of thumb: If the pile is too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Always remember to douse with water, stir, and repeat!
  • Firearms – 15 incidents – Triggers include target shooting, exploding targets, and tracer ammunition. Officials say always aim away from dry grass and avoid using rocks as backstops. Try not to use exploding targets or tracer rounds and avoid shooting on hot, windy days.
  • Fireworks – 14 incidents – Avoid igniting firework explosives, especially in dry vegetation as the uncontrolled sparks can easily ignite when landing.

In 2021 alone, Utah firefighters have responded to a total of 1,084 wildfires with 547 of those being human-caused, which is about 50%, according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (DNR).

As fire officials map wildfire data in Utah, the increasing annual numbers paint a stark picture of a growing trend.

For human-caused fires, In 2019, there were 556 and in 2020, there were 1,009. For naturally-caused wildfires, 2019 reported 921 and 2020 reported 1,326. With each subsequent year, the numbers grow, which is why fire officials are urging the public to use their best fire sense and take care to recreate safely outdoors