Fire crews across Utah must share and move resources in order to effectively fight wildfires.
The National Interagency Fire Center has increased national preparedness to level 3, meaning many states can’t manage their wildfires without help from national resources. The fire center looks at blazes across the country and allocates helicopters, engines, and crews to areas that are most threatened.
Shayne Ward is with Utah Department of Natural Resources. He says the West Antelope fire has burned across half of Antelope Island, but the blaze is mostly contained. But he can’t say when the fire will be completely out since an agency is sending many of that fire’s resources to other threats.
“So it’s really just a juggling act that a lot of the coordinating centers have to go through to allocate the proper resources for the proper fire" he says. "This one is 80 percent contained, so it’s going lower down the list of priorities whereas there’s several other pressing fires that could be threatening structures or infrastructures, so we’re going to start seeing some of our resources pulled from the West Antelope.”
KJ Pollock is with the U.S. Forest Service. She says firefighters aren’t feeling the strain yet, but if the national preparedness level reaches the highest level, 5, Utah could feel a stretch on its national firefighting resources.
“It just depends on fuel moisture and weather patterns" she says. "If we get the monsoons and we get some rain, we may not get into that. But it could stay dry, temperatures could go up, and fuel moisture could dry out fairly quickly.”
Firefighters in Utah are sharing resources across several large active wildfires including Choke Cherry near West Wendover, West Antelope in Salt Lake, and Lower Ebbs near Scipio.