Parleys Fire adds to growing number of human-caused wildfires

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A charred mountainside offers a glimpse of the Parleys Fire that continues to smolder 80 acres of land. This human-caused fire adds to the growing number of unintentional wildfires the state has seen this year.

Friday morning, an ABC4 News camera captured video of a helicopter dropping buckets of water over a now, smoldered mountainside – that billowed out – following the start of Parleys Fire Thursday night.

Fire officials believe the wildfire was caused by a dump truck’s low-hanging chains, driving on Interstate-80 around 5:30 p.m.

Evacuations were ordered for roughly 300 homes and cabins. That order is still in effect for the Mt. Aire community.

“That community specifically is in a very narrow canyon, and there’s one way in and there’s one way out,” said Kait Webb, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. “It is a very steep typography and it’s also thick vegetation. So, if a fire were to be in that canyon or if it were to move into that area, it would be a significant risk almost immediately.”

While the fire is not ablaze, Friday, crews are working to put out the smoldering hot spots.  

“There are what we call islands of green vegetation within the fire perimeter that have not burned,” Webb said. “So, it just means there’s unburnt fuel which could kick back up and potentially threaten the containment line.”

The Parleys Fire adds to the growing number of human-caused fires, now bringing the number of unintentional wildfires to more than 700 of the nearly 1,000 fires this season.

“That’s a much higher number than we’d normally see,” Webb said. “That’s about 333 more than we saw in 2019 and about 200 more than we saw in 2018. So, we’re seeing a significant uptick in human-caused wildfires.”

As of today, seven wildfires are burning across the state, according to Utah Wildfire Info.

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