Wildfire season has started ahead of schedule due to recent hot and windy weather, according to firefighting officials.
“On Sunday we had a wind-driven fire run six miles in 40 minutes out at Dugway Proving Ground,” said Tooele County Fire Warden Dan Walton.
“Due to the high water year, we had an above-average green-up period. The repeated hot and windy weather has dried those fuels out at an alarming rate,” Walton said. “We have been experiencing beyond normal fire behavior recently.”
The National Interagency Fire Center predicted that the wildfire season in Utah would hit hard about July 1, according to its outlook for June through September.
“Early indications are that greenness and later curing in the finer fuels will maintain normal fire activity until the end of June. However, at that point, given the expected greater-than-normal grass crop, fire potential could increase dramatically,” the fire center reported.
“Higher elevations across northern Utah remain quite moist and snow covered in some areas. Greenup is occurring later than normal due to the lower than normal melting rates,” the fire center continued. “Look for a late start to the fire season in higher elevations, which could lead to a compressed season ending in September.”
A tweet from Utah Fire Info indicated that 45 human-caused wildfires were reported in the state from June 9-11. Four major fires burned in Northern Utah, two in Central Utah and two in Southern Utah.
On Monday, utahfireinfo.gov reported a major fire in Uintah County was 90-percent contained, a 15-acre fire near Beaver was still active and a 211-acre fire in Box Elder County was contained.
“People need to be careful not to do anything that could cause a spark,” Walton said. “Even the green grass will burn hot and spread quickly.
“History has shown that 90-percent of the fires in Tooele County are human caused,” he added. “The vast majority are equipment related — vehicles, tractors, trailers, grinding, welding, etc.”
Dawn Orr, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management, said several fires are caused from target shooting. Campfires and fireworks are other common fire-starters, according to utahfireinfo.gov.