This year has already been a historic fire season for Utah, and it’s not even halfway through it.
As of Monday, 82% of wildfires in the state have been started by people, and that worries fire officials. Over the last 10 years, humans have caused 60% of the fires on average. And already this year, wildfires have burned over 180,000 acres, putting Utah third in the nation for total acres burned due to wildfires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Dry, windy conditions this spring and summer have made it ideal for new fires to quickly spread, according to Kait Webb, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Webb said more people are also out recreating this year. Some of the main culprits of human-caused fires come from vehicles, target shooting and fireworks.
“It’s a public safety concern, it places all of our firefighters and first responders in unnecessary risk and those fires are preventable. We can do better. We should lower those numbers here in Utah,” Webb said.
With Pioneer Day coming up, fireworks restrictions will be lifted for parts of the state from July 22 to July 25. But Webb said people still need to be aware of rules in their area.
“We have already seen how detrimental fireworks can be, used in the wrong locations under the wrong conditions,” she said. “Two very recent examples are the Traverse Fire and the Turkey Farm Road Fire. Both of those were started by illegal fireworks use. They [also] placed a number of firefighters, first responders and the public in danger.”
The Traverse Fire started at the end of June, and the Turkey Farm Road Fire started last week. Both forced residential evacuations and combined have burned more than 12,000 acres. The Traverse Fire has been put out, and officials have contained 85% of the Turkey Farm Road Fire.
For the latest on active fires and restrictions, visit KUER’s Fire Page.