WILDFIRE

Slower start to fire season 2023: what can we do to stop fires in Utah?

Jul 18, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: Jul 19, 2023, 9:16 pm

Fire danger risk map of fires in Utah....

Fire danger risk map of Utah. (Utah Fire Sense screenshot)

(Utah Fire Sense screenshot)

TOOELE, Utah — There have already been 300 fires in Utah this year and while that might sound high, it’s much better than the last few years.

“Usually fire season, so to speak, starts late July, early August. And we’re off to a bit of a slow start this year because of the amount of moisture we received over the winter,” said North Tooele Fire Department Spokesman Jon Smith.

What does this mean?

Well, it may just mean that the season is off to a slow start, Smith said, “That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to have a light fire season overall though, that’s, that’s what we want to caution people about.”

“This year, we’re looking more like a September fire start. Now that doesn’t mean that we’re not paying attention and not fighting fires already. We’ve already had a considerable amount of fires for the 2023 season, but nothing compared to say the year 2020 where it was a really dry drought here.”

Human-caused fires

Humans have been the cause of approximately half of the wildfires this year, but Smith said it might be more. He said that human-caused fires range from leaving a campfire unattended, dragging chains on the roadway, tossing your cigarette butts out the window, parking a car in high grass, welding or cutting metal in high grassy areas to even, trains or power lines sparking dry grassy areas.

One of the biggest offenders of human-caused fires is fireworks.

“Fireworks are obviously part of the way we celebrate our nation’s heritage and our state’s heritage and we love fireworks just like everybody else. But we want to make sure that we’re using them responsibly and not in areas that have been restricted by the state counties or cities that we live in,” said Smith. 

Prevention tips

The best thing we can do to slow this year’s fire season is to do our best to prevent fires in Utah.

Utah Fire Sense said that practicing fire safety tips can prevent roughly 70% of Utah wildfires.

These tips include making sure that RVs and trailers are given proper maintenance, securing chains so they’re not dragging on roads, and not parking your car on tall grass.

Additionally, campers should always attend their firepits, make sure that the fire is out by checking the temperature with the back of your hand before leaving, and never starting a fire on windy days.

Always have water or a fire extinguisher nearby when starting a fire.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Slower start to fire season 2023: what can we do to stop fires in Utah?