OGDEN -- A dry winter and the rising temperatures of the impending spring mean fire season could start early.
A storm is expected to drop rain and snow on the Top of Utah today. But if the dry winter weather continues through spring, which starts Tuesday, Utahns can expect a higher chance of wildfires, said Jason Curry, spokesman for Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
This winter the state received only half to three-quarters the amount of snowfall it usually does, said Nanette Hosenfeld, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
This month has already been busier than last March, with small grass fires across the state and possibly more than the March before, Curry said.
"We've had some brush fires (burn) 10 to 15 acres ... some over 20 (acres)" in Northern Utah, Curry said. "We are ahead of schedule for dry vegetation."
A lot of dry grass is left over from last year and is exposed with no snow cover, he added.
In Box Elder County, a trailer lost a dually wheel and caused a brush fire that burned more than 140 acres near Mile Marker 102 on Highway 83, said county Fire Marshal Greg Martz. The area is at least partly marshlands, meaning even the wetter regions aren't free from fire hazard right now, he said.
Weber County firefighters also have been busy battling burning vegetation on private properties. In just the past week, firefighters responded to at least three barn and shed fires, a haystack fire and a grass fire.
In most cases, someone had been burning hay or vegetation and left before the fire was actually out, said Weber Fire District Capt. John Meek.
In one instance, a shed behind a home burned to the ground near 3000 South and 2700 West in West Haven. Neighbors said the property owner had been burning his field that day, according to the Weber County Sheriff's Office.
Curry warns that it's usually not a good idea to burn anything on a day when there could be wind, and that everyone should be mindful of dry grass in the area, which can create an unintended path for a fire.
He also recommends that people keep handy a fire extinguisher or shovel to smother the flames with dirt.
Weber County Fire Marshal Ted Black reminds campers that they do not need a roaring bonfire to roast marshmallows or hot dogs; a small fire will do the job.
Still, spring could bring a lot of moisture to Northern Utah and reduce the danger, Black said.
"It's a wait-and-see game," Black said.