SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is currently suffering from not only an extreme drought but also wildfires engulfing the state. Over 40,000 acres have burned from fires in June alone.
Utah state and local officials took extra precautions by banning fireworks in some areas and setting restrictions on campsites to prevent wildfires. Kait Webb, fire spokesperson and prevention coordinator for Utah Division of Forestry Fires and State Lands, said it is more critical this year than ever to learn fire prevention.
“When we have something like a drought, what that means is our soil moisture is incredibly dry,” Webb explained. “Those fuels are very dry as well and the lower the humidity levels in vegetation the easier it is for a wildfire to start.”
It will take very little to ignite wildfires in Utah this year.
“This year, we are observing fire activity that we tend to see in August and it is early June,” Webb said.
Eight wildfires in Utah
Sego FireThe Sego Fire in Grand County, Utah started from a lightning strike on June 20. So far, the fire has burned 85 acres and according to Utah Wildfire, it is 0% contained.
The #SegoFire started this afternoon on the southern end of the Book Cluffs, north end of Thompson Springs in Grand County. This lightning caused fire is burning in inaccessible terrain. Air resources are on scene. #kmyffsl pic.twitter.com/Ze6rO0ADNg
— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) June 20, 2021
For firefighters, this fire is unique because the terrain is inaccessible.
“There are different accessibility challenges for every fire, but when we say the terrain is inaccessible it may be too steep, it may be rocked out cliffs, and there aren’t any roads to start with,” Webb said.
Webb also confirmed they are using air resources for this fire because it could be that the terrain isn’t safe.
Horsecorn FireOn April 4, a red flag warning was issued for the Uintah Basin due to critical fire conditions in the area.
June 20, the Horsecorn fire, located on the reservation in a three-county area known as the Uintah Basin, was started by a lightning strike. Both air and ground resources were called to work the flames.
The Horsecorn fire has burned a total of 662 acres and is 0% contained. The fire is still extremely active and the BIA Forestry & Wildland Fire – Uintah & Ouray Agency is asking individuals to stay away so crews can work.
Morgan Canyon FireThe Morgan Canyon Fire is unique because it was caused by a small plane crash on June 18. The fire in Tooele County is said to be 0% contained and has burned over 167 acres.
The #MorganCanyonFire is currently 167 acres and 0% contained. Yesterday, with favorable weather conditions, firefighters conducted successful firing operations along the handlines and Stansbury Trail in more favorable ground for suppression. Air attack continues to assist crews. pic.twitter.com/TsaCamdXWe
— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) June 22, 2021
According to Utah Fire, the growth of the flames is minimal and has moderate fire behavior. The smoke from the fire traveled east into the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys, where people could see it all over.
Flatt FireThe Flatt Fire, located in Beryl, Utah, has burned 14, 379 acres and is 57% contained according to Utah Fire Information. The cause of this fire was natural being a lightning strike according to Iron County Sheriff’s Office.
The fire is burning south from the starting point near 200 South Old Modena Road. Evacuation orders are in place from 2000 South Old Modena Road east to 2400 West and south to Enterprise.
An evacuation center has been opened at Enterprise High School located at 565 South 200 East.
One structure is reported to be lost.
#FlattFire 6/21/21, Acres 14,379, Contained 50% fire stayed in the current footprint despite the wind event. Containment on the north and east perimeter of the fire was achieved Some fire resources will be released to assist with other emerging fires in Utah pic.twitter.com/SLGZLNRH6W
— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) June 21, 2021
Deer Springs FireKane County Emergency Services reported the Deer Springs Fire, which started June 18, has burned 223 acres and is 65% contained. The fire began from a lightning strike on the land while the sage and dry brush encouraged burning.
As a result of this fire, The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service issued a statement Tuesday that there will be a full forest closure for the Kaibab National Forest beginning Wednesday Morning.
“A full forest closure means the public is prohibited from entering any part of the Kaibab National Forest at any time,” the statement said.
The forest service has already begun the vacating process for those individuals who are already camping there at this time.
Pack Creek FireHumans caused the fire burning south of Moab on June 9. The Pack Creek Fire was started by an unattended campfire, according to responding authorities.
A mix of dry vegetation and winds caused the fire to spread quickly, destroying on structure in the midst. Many other structures are threatened by the blaze. In response to the fire, all homes in the Pack Creek Community have been evacuated.
So far, the fire has burned a total of 8,952 acres and is 66% contained.
Containment on the #PackCreekFire increased as the 378 personnel have safely contained 66% of the fire with minimal acreage growth today, 8,952 total acres.
Fuels reduction played a vital role in slowing the spread of this fire. To find out more visit, https://t.co/VN4rFkFIVT
— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) June 23, 2021
Bennion Creek Fire
The Bennion Fire, burning in steep and rugged terrain on U.S. Forest Service land, is in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. So far, the fire has burned 8,313 acres and is 80% contained according to Utah Fire authorities.
Kevin Abel with the Dixie National Forest said that structures are threatened.
The fire is being fought by ground and by air.
The Mammoth wildfire has developed approximately 10 miles east of our KICX radar and it along with its smoke plume are currently visible on its images. The fire is the green area on the left with the plume moving east into Bryce Canyon. #utwx pic.twitter.com/l8fsWhQqd3
— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) June 5, 2021
As of June 22, the Bear fire, burning north of Price and Helper, Utah, has burned 12, 170 acres. The fire is said to be 93% contained and according to Utah Fire authorities, the cause is still under investigation.
Additionally, the fire is reported to be a “mop-up and patrol status” fire meaning it is almost out. “When we first fight a fire we engage in what is called ‘Fire Suppression’,” Webb explained.
“This is stopping the progression of the fire and keeping the fire to a specific area we are comfortable with,” Webb said. “We are removing fuels and building lines and once the line is established we start working the fire perimeter with water and tools to extinguish heat.”
The cause of this fire was a lightning strike and crews are still working to put it completely out.
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