OGDEN -- When fire broke out in a 2 1/2-acre open field Monday behind the 900 block of Patterson Avenue, dry grass and stiff winds combined to move the blaze quickly up the hill toward homes. One homeowner had left a fallen, dead tree in her yard since December. Had that tree caught fire, it would have carried the inferno right to her doorstep.
Avoiding such problems is precisely why Utah agencies have brought in a National Wildland Fire Prevention and Education Team.
"By being more knowledgeable of what causes wildfires, we will be able to enjoy our public lands in a safer manner," said Loren Walker, U.S. Forest Service prevention coordinator.
The team is a combination of forces from three agencies -- the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the state of Utah -- presenting a uniform effort to keep the public informed of fire restrictions and safety precautions.
The team is putting up billboards and bulletin boards and sending out fliers with restrictions and suggestions.
"We're taking their restrictions and putting them into fliers that the public can see at the campgrounds," said Donna Wilson, an information officer with the team.
One flier the group recently released features a checklist on how to prevent forest fires.
The checkpoints are:
* Obey all fire restrictions.
The following activities are prohibited on public lands, Wilson said: Building, igniting, maintaining, attending or using a fire outside a fire structure that is provided within a designated area. Also prohibited is smoking outside an enclosed vehicle or building.
* Be safe during all outdoor activities.
"The public is urged to be cautious with any device that could start a wildfire," Wilson said.
* Be aware of your surroundings -- dry fuels, changing weather conditions and dangerous activities.
* Help inform your neighbor.
"If your neighbor is using fireworks in the urban interface, please take the time to explain about the fire restrictions. It could be your house you save," Wilson said.
"The same thing would go for banned campfires outside designated recreation sites."
* Be ready to move to safety in the event of a wildfire -- "Ready, Set, Go."
"People need to be ready to move to safety," Wilson said. "We aren't going to tell anyone to put (a fire) out. They need to be ready, set to go."
She said she wants people who see a fire to get to a safe place and then call 911.
* Actively support your local fire agencies.
* Be informed and be prepared.
This last checkpoint encourages visiting the UtahFireInfo.gov website for more information about fire restrictions and fire safety.
Another flier the team recently released outlines personal restrictions in public lands because of wildfire danger.
You may not have fires outside of designated recreation sites. Use charcoal briquettes only in grills provided at designated recreation sites. No fireworks are allowed.
The flier also outlines allowable fires.
They are those inside concrete or metal rings provided at designated recreation sites and inside portable stoves and lanterns using liquid petroleum fuels.