Summit County fire danger reduced from last year despite ongoing risk
Officials urge people to practice smart fire sense as August approaches
Fire danger in Summit County remains high, but officials say the overall conditions are better compared to last year despite the ongoing drought.
Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer anticipates there will continue to be a high level of danger in the coming weeks as what is traditionally the hottest part of the year approaches. Recent forecasts call for weather conducive to fires, such as high temperatures, low relative humidity and wind – which isn’t abnormal for the summer, but still carries risks.
“Things are a whole lot better than last year,” he said. “By this time last year, we were in stringent fire restrictions, drought restrictions and restrictions on water use. It’s kind of moderated somewhat this year where we’ve seen a little bit of precipitation coming in and reservoirs are able to hold more water this year than last year.”
Boyer said fire occurrence is low. He estimated there have been fewer than 10 fires in the county, not including those that happened on land under the control of the U.S. Forest Service. Firefighters have also been quick to respond, which helps stop the damage from spreading. The majority of fires have burned an acre or less and those occurring in the forest have been under a half-acre because of increased moisture, according to Boyer. The Wanship Fire that burned close to 40 acres on July 17 is considered the largest fire in the county so far this year.
Summit County only meets one of the seven criteria used to determine fire restrictions, which is an area experiencing an extended drought. Boyer is hopeful monsoon rains expected in Southern Utah will continue moving north and provide relief locally. Scattered showers in certain parts of the county have helped keep grasses and vegetation moist, which reduces the risk of fires starting and limits the amount of burn time for those that do ignite.
Moving into the rest of summer, Boyer said it’s important to practice good fire sense to keep risks of danger low. Recently, he said, there’s been an uptick in reports of campfires creeping out of rock fire circles, particularly in the Uinta-Wasatch–Cache National Forest. This likely happens when people leave campsites before ensuring the fire is completely cool. Boyer said firefighters have been able to contain the areas quickly, helping prevent a possible blaze.
“They’re not growing very large but as we go into August and the hottest part of our season, that could become more of an issue if people aren’t using good fire sense,” Boyer said.
Other safety tips include clearing dead debris near campfires, having firefighting tools close by and ensuring vehicles are properly maintained.
Text SCFIREINFO to 888777 for updates about current fire conditions and active fires in Summit County.
The Summit County Wildland Fire Unit is a county-founded, volunteer-run resource created to assist with an extended wildfire.
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