Human-caused wildfires down, but Utah still ranks in Top 10 for fire danger

Aug 24, 2021, 3:58 PM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:46 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s fire season this year has been mild compared to some of our neighbors in the West, but the Beehive State just landed at a concerning spot on a national list as the sixth-most dangerous state for wildfires in 2021.

The website Move.org compiled info from a national database finding the number of acres burned in Utah exploded 146% in 2020 over 2019.

Utah was ranked in the top five for states with the most acres burned over the last three years, and it had more firework-caused fires than any other state.

However, lightning remained the state’s top fire starter, along with California and Texas.

From a national standpoint, it would seem like the downward trend in the number of fires over the last several years would point to progress. But it’s tricky.

Utah did see an 18% drop in the number of wildfires in the 2010s vs the 2000s. But the overall acreage is way up at 7.5 million acres burned every year — 1 million more than the annual total the previous 10-year span.

And the state has seen more than 10 million acres burn three times in the last five years.

Before 2015, that had never happened before.

It’s not all doom and gloom – state fire officials reported only about half of Utah’s 900+ fires this year were started by people.

Typically that’s around seven or eight out of 10, so Utahns doing better in that category.

But there has still been at least one fire start every single day since May 17.

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Human-caused wildfires down, but Utah still ranks in Top 10 for fire danger