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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Fall Has Arrived, But What Does That Mean For Utah's Record Breaking Fire Season

A photo of a smoky forest.
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info
The 3 Creeks Fire in Beaver County started on Sept. 21 because of people. Around 75% of the fires started in Utah this year have been human-caused.

Tuesday marks the first day of fall, which means Utah’s fire season could be coming to a close, depending on weather and fuels — the two drivers for fires.

Usually fall means officials can control new fires easier, according to Jason Curry, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Temperatures tend to drop and precipitation increases, which keeps fire growth at a minimum.

But the National Weather Service predicts for the next three months Utah will have above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.

That could prolong the fire season, Curry said.

“Usually fire behavior is going to moderate,” he said. “We're kind of waiting and watching for that with things being as dry as they are and the temperatures still being, in the mid 70s in northern Utah and higher in southern Utah.”

How long fire seasons last vary year to year. In 2019, Curry said the state had fires through November. But in 2018, it was winding down by early October.

Fall is also big for hunting in Utah. Curry said every year they see problems with hunters and campers not properly extinguishing campfires.

Around 75% of fires this year have been human-caused — a record-breaking year for the state.

“Outdoor recreation is one of the only things that people have left right now with the pandemic situation,” he said. “More people out and about means more chances for ignitions and people's need to be careful.”

Mike Melton, a fire management officer in Southwest Utah, said officials in the area expect dangerous conditions to continue in the near future, especially for lower elevations where many people live and recreate.

“Fire restrictions have been in place since June and will continue until significant precipitation occurs,” Melton said in a press release.

For the latest on current conditions and restrictions, visit KUER’s fire page.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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