WILDFIRE

Utah sees busy start to 2024 wildfire season, draws comparison to record-breaking year

Jun 18, 2024, 4:30 PM | Updated: Jun 21, 2024, 3:32 pm

2024 wildfire season...

A wildfire near Flaming Gorge Reservoir, causing the evacuation of the Mustang Campground. (Utah Fire Info)

(Utah Fire Info)

SALT LAKE CITY— The 2024 wildfire season in the Beehive State has been off to a busy start.

KSL TV’s Mike Anderson discusses prepping your house for wildfire season at 3:45.

 

According to Utah Fire Info, as of Tuesday morning, Utah had registered 261 wildfires this year. Of those, 211 were human-caused, accounting for about 80% of the fires.

While this isn’t the busiest start to a wildfire season in Utah, it is drawing a comparison to 2020.

In 2020, Utah saw records shattered in multiple wildfire categories. The year had 1,482 total fires burning over 328,000 acres. Out of those, 1,193 were human-caused fires. That data is according to Kayli Guild, the fire prevention and communications coordinator for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

At this time in 2020, Utah registered 366 wildfires, 265 were human-caused. And while 2024 hasn’t seen as many, Guild told KSL NewsRadio, “There’s a lot of things that are very similar,” between the two years.

First, Salt Lake City already registered its first 100-degree day of the year on June 13.  This is roughly three weeks earlier than average. Guild said temperatures in 2020 also rose earlier in the year.

Second, the 2020 monsoon season was largely dry. While Utah hasn’t entered that period yet —which typically lasts between late June and September— the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center predicts above-average temperatures across Utah over the next three months.

The center also predicts below-average precipitation levels over the same time period.

Much of Utah was in a drought in 2020, which isn’t the case now. But, this year, Utah has a unique problem to add to the mix. “We have the excess fuel growth from the last three years,” Guild said.

All that vegetation came courtesy of two consecutive strong winters in 2023 and this year. However, it’s either dried or going to dry out, making it prime fuel for wildfires.

Preventing wildfires

While the potential for wildfires is going to be prevalent for the next couple of months or so, Guild said there are things people can do to limit how many actually come to fruition.

According to Guild the number one fire starter over the last five years is cars and trailers.

Guild encouraged people to maintain their vehicles, not tow too much weight for a given trailer and to fully put out campfires so they’re cold to the touch.

For more tips on how to prevent wildfires, visit the Utah Fire Sense website

“Everybody has a part in keeping Utah beautiful and keeping Utah safe,” Guild said. “Please be mindful and recreate responsibly.”

Related reading:

Adam Small is a reporter for KSL NewsRadio. He primarily reports on the Great Salt Lake and Natural Resources. Follow him on Facebook and X.  

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Utah sees busy start to 2024 wildfire season, draws comparison to record-breaking year