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Update: Utah's Fire Season Is Technically Over. Mother Nature May Have Other Plans.

Photo of piles of debris burning in the distance amidst small piles of snow.
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info, via Twitter.
Firefighters burned approximately 800 slash piles at the Hill Air Force Base camp in Northern Utah on Monday. Though fire season is officially over, fire risk remains high in the central and southern parts of the state.

Updated 9:13 a.m. MST 11/15/19

The closed fire season in Southwest Utah has been extended until Nov. 30 due to unprecedented conditions across the region, state fire officials announced this week.

That means that debris burning is prohibited in Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne, Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington counties without a permit from the regional office of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands in Cedar City. Campfires are permitted, as long as they can be controlled and extinguished. 
The season previously had been extended until Nov. 15 but has been pushed back until the end of the month or the arrival of what Southwest Utah Fire Manager Mike Melton described as a “widespread, wetting rain.”

We’re one dry cold front with some really good wind and a poorly placed ignition from having a large fire,” he said.

As of Thursday, St. George has gone 150 days without measurable precipitation, which is one-hundredth of an inch of rain. It’s the longest such period since the National Weather Service began keeping records for the city in 1893. 

The previous record of 121 days was set in 1929.

Melton said the ban only applies to unincorporated areas within those counties and that people in cities and towns should check with their local fire departments.

The official fire season in Utah came to an end on Oct. 31.

That’s based on a state law, which defines fire season as the period between June 1 and Oct. 31. 

But that distinction only exists on paper, according to Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

“Mother nature doesn’t exactly pay attention to our statute. This season is certainly proving to be that way, especially in Southern and Central Utah where it’s been very, very short as far as precipitation,” he said.

David Fuchs is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George.

David is a reporter and producer working on Sent Away, an investigative podcast series from KUER, The Salt Lake Tribune and APM Reports.
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