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State agencies implement fire restrictions across Northern Utah

By Ryan Aston - | Jul 1, 2024

BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner file photo

A helicopter drops water over wildfire flames burning above Fruit Heights on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.

A spring season marked by excess moisture and moderate temperatures has officially given way to extremely hot, dry conditions throughout the Beehive State. Consequently, fire managers have taken action to lower the risk of fire.

Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. for nine Northern Utah counties in response to current and expected weather conditions and the drying of vegetation, the Utah Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, announced over the weekend.

Restrictions were implemented on all unincorporated private and state lands in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Morgan, Rich, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah and Weber counties.

The following activities will be prohibited while the restrictions remain in effect:

  • Starting open fires of any kind, except within established public facilities at improved campgrounds or picnic areas, or in permanently constructed fire pits at private homes where running water is present.
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area that is paved or free from dry vegetation.
  • Discharging/using any fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices, including exploding targets.
  • Cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
  • Operating a motorcycle, chainsaw, ATV or other small internal combustion engine without an approved and functioning spark arrestor.

Kayli Guild, DNR’s prevention and fire communications coordinator, told the Standard-Examiner that the decision to enact restrictions was made collaboratively by multiple state agencies.

“It’s a big conversation. They look at different criteria to determine if there’s enough of a trigger point to go into said restriction,” Guild said. “When I say criteria, it’s talking about different moisture and fuel levels … how dry things are, the anticipated weather forecasts and that sort of thing.”

In some ways, the cool, wet springs of recent years actually have increased the risk and potential damage associated with fires during summer months, according to Guild.

“There’s that excess fuel load … that extra vegetation to burn,” she said. “We’ve had like three years of this extra crop growth essentially in some areas. So, that’s why we’ve got that extra fuel load now.

“We’re a little concerned it’s going to burn a heck of a lot hotter, it’s going to burn that much more, causing more of a catastrophic wildfire.”

Anyone who violates fire restrictions could be subject to punishment including fines of up to $1,000, as well as up to sixth months in jail.

Guild noted that guidelines and restrictions within incorporated cities and towns may differ. Residents are advised to check with their local municipalities and/or fire marshals.

Meanwhile, the current restrictions on unincorporated private and state lands will be reconsidered/reevaluated on a regular basis, she said.

“(Agencies) just have conversations with fire leadership, the (fire management officers), from each area, and then they also visit with the county. So, the county commissioners have an impact on their say of how comfortable they are with these restrictions,” Guild said.

Guild expressed hope that people would exercise caution when setting off fireworks, starting campfires or engaging in other activities that could lead to significant incidents.

According to the Utah Fire Info website, there have been 386 fires affecting 5,298 acres of land during the 2024 fire season so far. The vast majority of those were determined to be human-caused.

For more info about restrictions, go to https://utahfireinfo.gov.


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