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wildfires

It may be autumn in a couple of days but wildfire season isn't slowing down. People living in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah remain evacuated from their homes because of nearby wildfires. And the flames are fueling another thing-private firefighting companies.

Incident Information System

Update: 1:25 p.m. 9/21/18

The National Interagency Fire Center continues to track nine fires in Utah, totalling 131,535 acres, which is roughly 205 square miles. More than 1,700 personnel are battling the flames.

Mitt Romney looks at wildfire maps.
@Romney4Utah Twitter

Elected officials and wildfire experts will meet Thursday afternoon in Salt Lake City to discuss how to prevent catastrophic wildfires from springing up in Utah and across the west.

Western firefighters were working the biggest wildfire in California’s history when they encountered a surprising obstacle: slow internet.

With wildfires burning through much of the West, there’s high demand for big aircraft to come in and battle the flames from above.

Over the last 30 years, the West has seen an uptick in the size and frequency of forest fires. Scientists have typically attributed the change to low snowpack and high summer temperatures. But researchers writing in the journal PNAS say the trend could have more to do with rain.

Researchers pulled up maps of forest wildfires from 1979 to 2016 and compared those maps against data on snow, rain, temperature and humidity.

Smith at podium with flowers.
Screenshot: City of Draper Live Feed

Thousands gathered Monday in West Valley to remember Draper firefighter Matthew Burchett, who died last week while battling the massive Mendocino Complex Fire in California. He was 42.

With its breathtaking views, the Mountain West has long been a destination for weddings. But now, some wedding industry workers are seeing fewer couples wanting to get hitched in late summer months because of an increasingly smoky backdrop.

A new study shows air pollution like soot, dust and smoke is down around the country with one exception: wildfire prone areas like the Mountain West.  

Here's a telling statistic: Seven of the most destructive wildfires in California history have occurred just in the past 10 months.

In the West, wildfires are burning hotter and more intensely than ever because of climate change, and the situation is made worse by the explosion of development in fire-prone areas and past firefighting decisions. Here are three reasons the destructive fires you're seeing all over the news right now are unlikely to abate anytime soon.

1. It's nearly impossible to put out a modern megafire

Utah Fire Info / Twitter

Update 8/8/18 3 p.m.

The National Interagency Fire Center is keeping tabs on seven wildfires in Utah, including the Hilltop Fire in drought-stricken Sanpete County. Officials say the fire is 12 percent contained, and flames have burned nearly 3 square miles so far. Nearly 170 personnel are working the Hill Top Fire. That’s about twice as many as Tuesday.

A fast-burning fire in central Utah has scorched 1.5 square miles and threatened 500 people in communities around Sanpete County.

Record-breaking wildfires in California have prompted tweets from President Trump and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They blame the fires on “bad environmental laws,” too many dead or dying trees, and not enough logging.

As record wildfires rage across the West, funding for fire prevention science is in jeopardy. Under President Donald Trump's 2019 budget proposal, cuts to various programs will be significant.

Simulating The Weather Created By Fire In New Study

Jul 30, 2018
Pacific Southwest Region 5, courtesy of CAL FIRE

A recent study is helping researchers understand the role of wind in the largest forest fires.

A new report from The PEW Charitable Trusts said most states aren’t tracking how much they spend overall to deal with natural disasters.  

Burn scars on brown grass near large home.
Whittney Evans / KUER

Post updated 7/25/18, 11:00 a.m.

Fire crews responded to a brush fire in the foothills behind the Utah Capitol that forced the evacuations of dozens of homes near Victory Road.

Map of the Dollar Ridge Fire evacuation zones east of Strawberry Reservoir in Duschene County.
Judy Fahys / KUER

A state investigator for the Dollar Ridge Fire says it’s still not clear how Utah’s largest wildland blaze this year started or who started it.

A photo of firefighters taking a water break at the Dollar Ridge Fire east of Strawberry Reservoir in Utah.
Courtesy/Dollar Ridge Fire Team

Expenses are piling up for fighting the recent wildfires in Utah.

 

One of the world’s biggest firefighting aircraft is based in Colorado Springs. But it's fighting fires in California right now, rather than in the Mountain West.

Smoke plumes from wildfires in front of clouds.
With permission, Spring Creek Fire Facebook

So far around 60 wildfires are burning on 700,000 acres of land nationwide. Here’s a look at the 2018 fire season in our region and the forecast for the summer.

Utah Wildfire Info / Twitter

As wildfires burned throughout Utah Thursday morning, Gov. Gary Herbert announced a ban on open fires and fireworks on all state-owned land.

Target shooting is a popular activity on public lands across our region. It's also the second leading human cause of wildfires.

Governor's Office

A fast-moving brush fire destroyed eight homes in the Utah tourist town of Moab, while more than 3,000 people in Colorado and Wyoming fled multiple wildfires scorching the drought-stricken U.S. West on Wednesday.

Each summer, thousands of firefighters devote long hours to putting out wildfires. At the end of each day, they retreat to camp a safe distance away where they can relax and recharge to be ready for their next shift. And also get fed. For the Mountain West News Bureau’s Faces Behind the Fire series, we talk to the man in charge of the kitchen.

 


Wildfire season is ramping up in the region. Fire teams are now working to quash one outside Durango, Colorado, and Utah recently stopped another. That state is now doing prescribed burns to reduce the chance of a bigger blaze.

Fire experts say this season could be big for wildfires in our region. Our Mountain West New Bureau takes you behind the scenes with stories about the people who protect our communities, land and wildlife during wildlfire season. 

This story is about the people who rush into the smoke not to save people or structures, but … animals.  

Judy Fahys / KUER

Rowdy Muir started fighting fires on the front lines when he was 27.

While Colorado and Utah are prepping for a severe wildfire season this year, Montana, Wyoming and northern Idaho have been counting their lucky stars because all three states had a huge snowpack this season.

“We have the best snowpacks in the country,” said meteorologist Michael Richmond.

When all that snow melts, it’ll keep the forest wet and protected from fire.

However that doesn’t mean the region is free and clear.  Richmond said it may get hotter and drier than usual this summer. A lot of heat and no rain can dry out a forest within a week or two.

OFFICE OF UTAH GOVERNOR GARY HERBERT

Wildfire season is coming up. And new restrictions on fireworks might help reduce the ones’ that are man-made.