SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – More than two hundred wildfires this year were started by humans, according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. Officials tell us the entire state is in a drought, and 90% of the state is in an extreme drought.
Let’s face it, we can’t control the weather or Utah’s drought conditions this year.
“But the public can have a direct influence on how many wildfires on how many wildfires we have this season and how busy we are,” says Kait Webb with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands.
Webb is the Statewide Prevention and Fire Communications Coordinator. She says so far this year, Utah is suffering from 227 wildfires that torched 8,400 acres across the state.
Most recently, the Lone Cedar Fire in Sanpete County, just five miles from Gunnison, burned 25 acres.
Last month in Iron County, target shooting at a range caused an 11-acre fire.
And, one of the earliest fires happened near the south campground at Zion National Park.
State officials found only eight of the 227 wildfires this year were of natural causes.
“People are being careless, and conditions are really dangerous right now,” says Webb.
To have a better understanding of how dangerous this summer may be, fire officials released the following stats.
- 2021: 227 wildfires and 8,400 acres burned
- 2020: 86 wildfires and 804 acres burned
- 2019: 65 wildfires and 73 acres burned
- 2018: 184 wildfires and 2,080 acres burned
- 2017: 87 wildfires and 646 acres burned
- 2016: 96 wildfires and 174 acres burned
Firefighters say conditions won’t improve and things will get drier and drier as the season moves on.
“It is absolutely crucial that people are taking that message seriously,” Webb adds.
Officials are urging homeowners to create defensible space, clear vegetation around their homes, and remove debris off their roofs and in their gutters. If needed, firefighters can come to your home to tell you what you can do so they can save it if a fire happens.
“Vegetation still has that green appearance in a lot of areas, that’s not going to last long and there are a lot of locations across the state that don’t have that green,” she says. “There are a lot of areas that aren’t either getting that green-up or they passed that stage.”
Two more things officials are asking folks this holiday weekend are to make sure your chains are up if you are pulling a trailer and to put out your campfire, even making it cold to the touch.
To drive the messaging home, Governor Spencer Cox and state fire leadership will launch the Fire Sense Campaign Wednesday afternoon.
Their hope is the education will help drive down the human-caused wildfires this year.