WILDFIRE

Firefighters prep for a hotter and drier than normal summer in Utah

May 18, 2020, 6:08 PM
utah wildfire season 2020...
"Alpine Fire at about 3:50 pm July 3rd - View from Saratoga Springs, Utah." (Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting that Utah will have a hotter than normal summer, with northern Utah also drier than normal. Those conditions could help stoke some large fires this season.

And that’s why firefighters are prepping. 

Jason Curry with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands says they are constantly checking the latest weather reports and clearing dead vegetation, but they are doing some things differently this year. 

“We’re not really doing prescribed fires, per see … more of our effort has been in fuel reduction,” Curry says.

The drier than normal weather over the past two months is one reason why there are fewer controlled burns happening. Another is the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not a good idea to have firefighters standing next to each other, even during a controlled fire. 

Curry says plants are still growing in Utah right now, but there is also a lot of dry and dead vegetation left over from last year. 

“Some of it might be snow-matted, but it’s pretty resilient to the snowpack. And most fuels are pretty dry based on the precipitation that we’ve had in March and April. 

Ultimately, firefighters are asking people to be cautious as they start their summer vacations. 

Every year we experience human-caused fires that make up half of all wildfires statewide … and that can be anything from an intentional act to something that might be just overlooked. Like, maybe the axle on someone’s trailer wasn’t properly maintained and now it’s overheating…campfires, a number of things,” Curry says. 

With the hotter and drier temperatures raising the risk of fires, Curry is also asking people to stop flying drones when there is a blaze. It makes it harder for firefighters to do what they need to do to suppress the fire.

 

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