Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

AM News Brief: Wildfire Round-up, Drowning Deaths & Tribal Leaders Make Case For Infrastructure Funds

20210618FS-FlatFire-KSA-005-1024x684.jpg
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info
The Flatt fire started due to lightning and has scorched more than 14,000 acres in Washington County since Friday. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday morning, June 21, 2021

State

Holding On To Coal

Political, environmental and market forces are steering many Western states towards adopting more renewable energy like wind and solar. But utility operators and regulators in Utah argue that shift is putting the entire western grid at risk of blackouts — as renewable energy still can’t be produced at all times nor stored in large quantities for use later. They say Utah should consider holding onto more reliable energy sources, such as coal, for longer. One energy economist says that’s a controversial argument however, as maintaining coal can be expensive for energy consumers and worse for the environment. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

COVID Positivity Rate Rising

Utah health officials reported 539 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The state’s average positivity rate continues to rise. It’s now at 5.3% compared to 3.4% a month ago. Four more people died because of the virus, including one person younger than 45 years old. So far, more than 1.3 million Utahns are fully vaccinated. — Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

Deadly Water Accidents

It was another deadly weekend for recreation in Utah as three people drowned in the state’s reservoirs. Weber County officials said a 37-year-old man died at Pineview who was attempting to swim out to his son, who was using a flotation device. Officials said a bystander was eventually able to help the child. At Deer Creek State Park, a married couple from Arizona drowned. David McMillan jumped in the water to help a family member, and his wife, Catherine, dove in after him to help the pair. This is the third drowning at Deer Creek since Thursday. Officials are reminding people to make safety a top priority when recreating, and to always wear a life jacket and make sure children are wearing one too. — Ross Terrell

Jazz Playoff Run Ends

The Utah Jazz’s season came to a disappointing end Friday night. The team blew a 25 point lead before eventually losing game 6 in the Western Conference semifinals to the Los Angeles Clippers. They beat the Clippers in the first two games, before losing four in a row. Utah finished with the best record in the NBA this year and believed they were primed to make a title run. However, injuries and blown leads became too much to overcome. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Flatt Fire Burns More Than 14,000 Acres

Three wildfires started over the weekend have burned almost 15,000 acres combined. The Flatt fire is the largest of the three; it started due to lightning and has scorched more than 14,000 acres in Washington County since Friday. Across the state there are six fires that are at least 150 acres in size. A red flag warning is in effect for the state until 9 p.m. Tuesday. Any new starts can spread rapidly because of dry and windy conditions. — Lexi Peery

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2021 Fire Season.

Region/Nation

Infrastructure In Indian Country

As Congress debates an infrastructure package, tribal leaders say it should include significant investments in Indian Country. In a Congressional hearing Friday, they called for improvements to crumbling healthcare, education, water and other forms of infrastructure on reservations. Indian Health Service estimates it would take $22 billion to bring Native health care infrastructure alone to acceptable standards. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau