Utah Wildland Task Force Returns Home From Fighting Western Wildfires

Sep 25, 2020, 10:10 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2020, 2:32 pm

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Dozens of Utah firefighters, who were a part of a massive effort to help fight record-breaking wildfires along the west coast, have returned home. Many were there for weeks, some even longer.

Utah Wildland Task Force 1, 3 and 4 arrived in Utah Friday.

Geoff Whatcott has been a wildland firefighter for nearly 15 years.

He said when they arrived in Oregon, he saw what a big job was ahead.

“It was a lot greater fire activity than they’re normally used to,” said Whatcott. “Lots of devastation.”

Critical fire weather has not helped.

Matthew McFarland with the Unified Fire Authority said weather has created the perfect storm.

“Wildfires are driven by three factors: fuel, weather and topography,” said McFarland. “In Southern Oregon, they had the perfect combination of all three in the wrong way. There’s basically a firestorm. There are fires going everywhere.”

The fires have charred millions of acres along the west coast, destroyed thousands of structures, and killed more than two dozen people.

As the crews arrived home, they said they were happy to help and appreciate the training opportunity that situations like this present.

“The opportunity for so many different agencies from Utah to work together as one somewhere else is a great training that is sort of unparalleled and really a value to Utahns,” said McFarland.

McFarland also said it’s highly likely members of Utah Wildland Task Force teams, which are made up of many different fire agencies across that state, will be called out again before fire season comes to an end.

Fire danger is expected to escalate again as an intense heat dome builds over the west coast.

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Utah Wildland Task Force Returns Home From Fighting Western Wildfires