‘Homefront comes first:’ Southern Utah firefighters head west to help battle Kincade fire

Southern Utah

Utah firefighters are continuing to head west this week as wildfires rage in California, but fire crews in Southern Utah say their homefront comes first and their wildfire season isn’t over yet. On Wednesday, firefighters wet mopped a 3.5-acre brush fire in La Verkin that threatened several structures overnight.

Weather fronts have been bringing rain and snow across Northern Utah and creating strong winds in the south. With 60 mile per hour wind gusts and very dry conditions, fire management officer Mike Melton with the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands said it’s been a balancing act to determine how many firefighters to send to battle the 76,000-acre Kincade Fire in Northern California.

“The homefront does come first, and when we can help out, we definitely do it,” Melton said. “As a matter of fact, there is probably an engine crew that would be on this LaVerkin fire right here, but they’re at the Kincade fire.”

Melton said seven personnel and two brush trucks from Cedar City Fire Department and Hurricane Valley Fire District and crews will be stationed in Northern California for at least two weeks. Fearing he’ll stretch resources too thin, Melton said he doesn’t anticipate sending any more.

“Just any kind of spark emitting, heating emitting type of activity stands the possibility of starting a wildfire,” Melton added. “We had somebody dump ashes this morning in Kane County, which started a fire.”

In fact, fire conditions are so unusual this year that fire officials said they’ve extended the “closed fire season” in Southern Utah through the middle of November.

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