UTAH (ABC4) – It’s wildfire season once again in Utah, and the wildfire dangers remain elevated, just as they have in previous years.
The Utah Division of Water Resources says the majority of the state is currently experiencing unprecedented drought. Currently, 99.8% of Utah experiencing “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions and 5.71% of Utah is in the “exceptional” category which is the worst category in the drought index.
So how does that affect wildfire risks and how does that risk compare to years past?
Here’s what the data shows, according to state fire officials:
- As of June 29, Utah has seen 293 total wildfires this year.
- Of those 293 wildfires, 219 of them have been human-caused. That adds up to 75% of the total wildfires this year.
- 6,058 acres have been burned as a result.
Although that’s a staggering number of wildfires, it’s much lower than the number of wildfires at this time in years past.
State fire officials say at this time in 2021, Utah saw 470 wildfires, with 372 of those being human-caused.
As of June 29, 2020 that number was even higher at 528, with 354 of those wildfires being human-caused.
So how do Utah’s 2022 wildfire statistics fit in with the rest of the country?
There have been 32,954 total wildfires in the U.S, burning a total of 3,608,939 acres. Local experts say both of these figures are well above the 10-year national average.
Of those wildfires, 31,200 of them were human-caused, burning 2.1 million acres of the 3.6+ million.
Fortunately, the state is taking action to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires in our state.
In May 2021, the state launched a campaign called “Fire Sense.” The public service campaign is designed in collaboration with state officials and interagency fire officials to make Utahns aware of the importance of fire-conscious decisions when recreating during the spring and summer months.
State officials believe the initiative has been effective, as the state reported a total of 922 human-caused fires in 2021 when compared to 2020.
As the 4th of July approaches, the wildfire risk in our state remains especially concerning, prompting many cities to implement fire restrictions.