OGDEN — A 1-acre grass fire in the wooded area of Fort Bueventura Park on Thursday afternoon has Ogden City Fire Department officials fearing this is just the beginning of a long, dry summer.
And a number of agencies across the state agree, having recently implemented their own fire restrictions.
Firefighters arrived within two minutes of the call and pinched the fire between the park’s asphalt entry road off A Avenue and the Weber River.
The fire, which remains under investigation, injured no one and damaged no structures.
But next time, who knows?
“We are going to be busy all summer long,” said Ogden Fire Battalion Chief Corey Barton.
It won’t be until the Wasatch Front gets snow that the concerns will be put to rest, he said.
“We’re only mid-June, and everything is July-dry,” Barton said.
Compounding matters at the grass fire was the cottonwood trees in the area dropping seedlings.
Fire crews on scene demonstrated how the cotton seed burns.
“The problem is, this cotton is like gasoline,” Barton said.
Because of the tinder-box conditions in the park, campers there are already restricted from having open campfires.
“It doesn’t take a lot,” Barton said of the tall grass that, within a week or two, will have dried out, creating fuel for any potential fire source, such as fireworks or a cigarette.
The high fire danger foreseen in weather forecasts, coupled with the dry conditions and a heavy load of vegetation, prompted fire managers at several state agencies to put fire restrictions in place.
The managers — from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands; Bureau of Land Management; Forest Service; National Park Service; Bureau of Indian Affairs; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — came to the decision June 13, according to a joint news release issued by the groups.
The restrictions prohibit the use of open fires of any kind, except campfires built within facilities provided for them in improved campgrounds, picnic areas or permanently improved places of habitation.
In addition, the restrictions prohibit smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation area or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared to mineral soil.
Using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices is also prohibited.
The restrictions do not apply to lands within incorporated towns and cities, but each municipality may have similar or more restrictive ordinances in place, the Utah interagency fire groups stated in the release.
“The restrictions will be in place until the fire hazard subsides,” the group said.
Which, Ogden fire officials say, could be awhile.
Barton said, “We’re right at the start of it.”