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Washington County fire crews train for upcoming fire season, likely the worst in over a decade, officials say

Southern Utah

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News)- Washington County fire crews are warning that this year will likely be the worst fire season in over a decade, and they say training is well underway.

Fire crews from the Santa Clara-Ivins Fire and Rescue say they’re preparing by cutting down overgrown vegetation and simulating fire scenarios.

Tyrel Hansen, assistant fire chief of Santa Clara-Ivins Fire and Rescue, said Southern Utah had a lot rain and snow this winter, causing grasses to grow thicker and taller, up to a few feet higher than normal.

“The thicker [vegetation] is, the higher the flames are gonna get and the more intensely they’re gonna burn,” said Hansen, adding that his crews are now training every other week following an intense training period at the end of April.

Wildland firefighters say learning to work as a team is one of the most important parts.

“Everything here is teamwork and you can’t do a single job in the fire world on your own,” said Santa-Clara Ivins Fire and Rescue firefighter Sella Pauling.

Fire crews practiced two techniques called “mobile attack” and “progressive hose lays” Monday. Crews spray water from engines while driving along a fire’s edge and put in fuel breaks, creating areas where fires can stop before they reach home.

With this year’s fuel conditions, Washington County fire crews say wildfires can get out-of-control in a matter of minutes.

“As soon as it gets a spark and ignites, it just takes off,” said Pauling.

Washington County fire officials said the majority of wildfires this year will be human-caused. The state will come out with fire restriction orders ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

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