Utah Sees Record Number Of Human-Caused Wildfires In 2020
Oct 19, 2020, 6:10 PM | Updated: 6:25 pm
OREM, Utah – Firefighters are battling two human-caused wildfires in Utah and state officials said dangerous fire conditions will continue.
“It’s been a record year for human-caused starts,” said Kait Webb with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Crews were still fighting two major fires Monday — the Range Fire in Utah County and Fire Canyon Fire in Summit County.
Investigators determined that the #RangeFire originated at the Orem Police Gun Range & was caused by target shooting. The Orem Police Officer present when the fire started is cooperating with officials. The investigation is on-going; more info will be shared when it's available.
— Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) October 19, 2020
She said back in September that Utah surpassed the previous record, set in 2015, for the number of human-caused fires.
“We are well over 1,000 human-caused fires this year,” said Webb. “That is a very high number.”
According to state data, 1,108 out of 1,428 wildfire starts were caused by humans. That’s 77% of all Utah wildfires this summer, compared to 60% human-caused in an average season.
The previous Utah record for human-caused fires was 937.
One reason: fire officials said more people are out recreating this year, starting more campfires, driving hot vehicles into extremely dry conditions more often and target shooting near dry brush.
— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) October 19, 2020
“Something as simple as a small spark from target shooting, from a chain dragging on the road, can easily spark a wildfire,” said Webb.
It’s also been very hot and very dry since spring. As the extreme drought lingers, so will the fire season.
“It’s not a normal fire season,” said Webb. “It is longer than most. We’re not generally in fire restrictions at this time of year.”
If you plan to build a fire, make sure you know the rules.
“Fire season is not over, bottom line. And we don’t have anything in the forecast for a season-ending event anytime soon statewide,” she said.
Fire officials are asking everyone to be extremely cautious about anything that could start a fire.