Federal officials are preparing for what is expected to be a challenging fire season this year, specifically in the west. The forecast comes amid diminished federal firefighting dollars as a result of sequestration.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the number of fires that have already burned across the U.S. this year are down from last year by about 5,000. But Vilsack warns not to be lulled into a false sense of security. He says droughts continue to plague much of the country and federal budgets are strained.
Utah strikes a deal to split responsibility with the federal government for its health exchange, the Unified Fire Authority puts a deputy chief on administrative leave for prescription fraud, and the Utah fire season arrives.
Lawmakers, the state forester, local law enforcement and the Utah Farm Bureau Federation are trying to build support for two bills that deal with an intense wildfire season expected again this Summer. Both are sponsored by Republican Senator Margaret Dayton. Senate Bill 62 would expand the governor’s ability to authorize all water sources needed to fight fires while SB 120 would put time and place restrictions on target shooting. State Forester Dick Buehler says just a small fraction of the 1528 wildfires last year were started by target shooters.
A local LDS church leader’s statement causes a neighborhood divide in Provo, Salt Lake City expands its SmartTrips program, and the Utah state forester says he’ll soon start restricting target shooting. That and more in today's News Pod.
Two new wildfires are burning in Utah, a few local cities are cancelling their 4th of July fireworks shows, and in downtown Salt Lake, a couple of peregrine falcons take their first flight. Those stories and more in today's News Pod.
A wildfire continues to burn Friday evening in Western Utah County near Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain. Mandatory evacuations have forced thousands of people out of their homes. Sergeant Spencer Cannon is a Public Information Officer with the Utah County Sheriff Department. He says that officers have been going to door to door, telling people they need to leave.
“Of course people don’t like doing that, but we’ll increase patrols in the area and make sure homes are protected,” said Cannon.
New restrictions to help prevent wildfires across Utah were put in place Thursday. The dry weather and lack of rain have created an early and intense fire season that is expected to continue if conditions don’t change.