ENVIRONMENT

Strong winds increasing fire danger in Utah

Jun 20, 2023, 9:30 PM | Updated: Jun 21, 2023, 12:48 pm

Fire danger is on the rise across the state, thanks to the wind blowing and drying things out. Wind...

FILE: A wildfire burning near the Saltair Marina in Magna. Smoke from wildfires has caused health-related issues to increase by 66 percent over the last decade. (Utah Fire Info)

(Utah Fire Info)

SALT LAKE CITY — Fire danger is on the rise across the state, thanks to the wind blowing and drying things out.

Windy days increase fire danger, carrying heat and embers that easily ignite the surrounding area.

Fire Prevention Specialist Paula Imlay with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands says the wind is a huge determining factor during fire season.

“They can order aircrafts to dump retardant on [a fire], but then again … that aircraft’s up in the air … the wind is just going to take that retardant and blow it not where they want it,” she says. “So the wind, really, determines a lot of the fire behavior.”

Along with this, Imlay says the wind quickly picks up embers helping fires spread.

“[The wind] is going to blow the embers miles away from where the actual fire started,” she says. “So then you run the risk of fires that are torquing and spotting ahead of the fire. And, (we) can’t put … firefighters on the ground ahead of an active fire.”

Additionally, Imlay says with winds over 25 mph and humidity below 20% in the southern half of the state, fire danger increases.

According to Imlay, Utah has had a slow start to the fire season this year thanks to all of the moisture. However, with winds drying the environment out, it could pick up very soon.

Devin Oldroyd contributed to this story.

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Strong winds increasing fire danger in Utah