Wet weather fails to dampen fire dangers in Northern Utah

Northern Utah News

FARR WEST, Utah (ABC4) – Northern Utah saw some rain Thursday morning, but fire officials says it’s not enough to lower fire danger in the area. They’re reminding all Utahns to continue following fire restrictions.

As storm clouds pass through Northern Utah, fire officials have a reminder: “We are in extreme fire danger statewide.”

Rick Cooper is the Weber County fire warden for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. He is also the wildland division captain for Weber District Fire. He says the recent rain isn’t enough to dampen wildfire risk in the area.

With the storms comes additional fire danger: lightning. If lightning strikes, it could smolder for up to two weeks before starting a fire. This is called a holdover.

“Recently in Weber County, three weeks ago, we had a lightning holdover,” Cooper told ABC4. “The lightning strike was a week prior to the fire starting. We got crews to it pretty quickly and got it contained in less than a quarter of an acre.”

Cooper explained the Bureau of Land Management has a lighting mapping system that allows fire agencies to monitor lightning strikes and send out fire crews to catch these fires early. He said the system is so good, it can give them almost an exact GPS location to check out for potential lightning-caused wildfire.

While technology helps fire crews monitor this type of fire with some ease, Cooper told ABC4 there is still some cause for concern.

“You get what we call those big lightning busts, and they’re these sort of huge lightning storms that will come through and they can start 30, 40, even 50 fires in a single evening.”

Cooper explained while firefighters worry about lightning-caused wildfires, they’re most concerned about those caused by humans.

He added that when areas, like Northern Utah, do get some rain, people shouldn’t let their guard down. He said during wet weather, Utahns should continue following fire restrictions.

“This is not only going to be a busy season,” he stated, “but this could actually be a dangerous season for our firefighters as well.”

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