By MARGA SCHMIE
As fires blaze their trails through central and southern Utah, fire officials continue to urge caution while fire indicators for the state reach all-time highs in what may be some of the worst fire conditions in state history.
“Record-high temperatures and low humidities during late May and early June have resulted in conditions we would not normally see until late July or mid-August,” said State Forester Art DuFault. “The combination of weather and heavy fuel loads have set the stage for extreme fire danger for most areas of the state,” he said.
The Utah County Fire Marshal along with the Utah State Department of Natural Resources and the Uinta and Wasatch-Cache National Forests are taking measures to control the fires.
The Utah County Fire Marshal, Tom E. Wroe, said he “deems the fire hazard to be extremely high and to constitute a threat to life and property.”
Extremely dry conditions and potential fire threats are causing fire officials to send warnings to residents and visitors.
“We’re asking everyone to be careful with fire, especially fireworks,” DuFault said. “We’ve been real lucky so far. There have been no serious injuries or fatalities.”
Fire closures have been placed on all state and private lands. Forest areas in Tooele and Juab counties are closed along with forest areas below 6,000-foot elevations throughout the state, said Reid Shelly, assistant fire management officer of Uinta National Forest.
State fire restrictions remain in effect for most of the state. Counties currently under restriction include Tooele, Utah, Millard, Sanpete, Sevier, Beaver, Juab, Piute, Wayne, Garfield, Iron, Grand, Washington, Kane and San Juan.
Open fires are allowed only in designated fire circles in campgrounds and picnic areas. Smoking is prohibited except in an enclosed vehicle or building. Fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited.
So far this year in Utah County, 20 fires have been caused by lightning and 10 have been caused by people, according to data gathered by dispatch of Utah County.
Jim Springer, spokesman for the Division of Forestry and State Lands, said Urban Interface fires are a big danger to home builders building up the sides of mountains.
Fire wardens are offering to trim and clear vegetation around houses to protect individual homeowners from possible fire threats.