Another fire-prone weekend proves people continue to be Utah’s greatest wildfire risk
Large human-caused fires that sparked in Utah in recent days have burned more than 15,700 acres, and have been fanned by dry, windy weather.
Gov. Spencer Cox, state leaders and fire managers urge people to be more cautious and use common sense — or what they call Fire Sense — when outdoors. There were 26 fires that started over the weekend, and all but three were because of people. There are five that are still active.
The Jacob City fire in Tooele County is visible from the Wasatch Front and ash from it fell over the weekend in the Salt Lake Valley. The cause was a generator exploding. Stockton police announced the arrest of Gary Carr on Tuesday for negligent behavior that led to the start of the fire.
Sierra Hellstrom, a public information officer working on the fire, said there is virtually no risk of this one spreading to more populated areas in Salt Lake and Utah counties, though fire managers are working to create fuel breaks and contingency lines around it.
“Our main areas of concern are anywhere where it has potential to spread towards … structures and communities,” Hellstrom said. “We have ordered quite a few resources and we have a lot of crews on it working diligently. We feel fairly confident that we will be able to keep it away from any of those areas.”
The Halfway Hill fire is the largest active blaze in the state at more than 10,000 acres. It’s burning in Millard County and started July 8 because of an abandoned campfire. Four people have been arrested by the Millard County Sheriff’s Office — they are charged with abandoning a campfire.
The Dry Creek fire, also located in Millard County, has burned over 1,800 acres.
Jesse Bender, a public information officer for the Halfway Hill fire, said it’s going to be “very hot” the next few days. This will further dry vegetation and impact firefighters, who she said are working long days in steep terrain.
But weather patterns are expected to change soon. Monsoonal moisture is increasing this week in southern and eastern Utah, according to the National Weather Service. Potential impacts include flash flooding, lightning and gusty winds.
“The additional cloud cover is helpful because it keeps just a little bit higher humidity in the area,” Bender said. “On the other hand, it's potentially going to bring isolated thunderstorms through and that can produce really gusty and erratic winds, which is part of what really drove this fire in the first couple of days.”
Bender said people need to be careful on public lands because, besides the dangers of starting a new fire, resources would have to be pulled from existing ones.