LOCAL NEWS

Utah had fewer wildfires in 2021 despite record drought

Jan 24, 2022, 4:00 PM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:45 pm

Crews at the Pack Creek Fire in southeastern Utah on June 15, 2021. (Utah Fire Info/Twitter)...

Crews at the Pack Creek Fire in southeastern Utah on June 15, 2021. (Utah Fire Info/Twitter)

(Utah Fire Info/Twitter)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah saw a remarkable turnaround during last year’s fire season despite a record-setting drought. The 2021 Utah Wildfire Annual Report released Monday showed Utah had 922 fewer fires in 2021 compared to 2020, a 62% decrease. 

In all, Utah had 1,131 wildfires in a fire season that started two weeks early. There were five large wildfires before the end of June. 

Utah started the year in a deficit with a low snowpack and little runoff. That was followed by a deepening drought which set records across much of the state and “the largest aerial coverage of ‘extreme’ to ‘exceptional’ drought in the history of the National Drought Monitor,” the report said. 

Then the seasonal monsoons brought a remarkable turnaround to Utah.  

“By late July, the Southwest Monsoon rapidly developed, and with it, a diminishment in fire activity,” the report said. “It was the strongest monsoon in several years and the wettest across northern areas in over a decade.” 

From the beginning of August through the end of the year, fire activity did not come near the highest levels reached in July. 

Jamie Barnes, Forestry, Fire & State Lands director said, “Credit for these declining numbers is being given to interagency prevention efforts including our statewide wildfire prevention campaign and fire restrictions,” said Jamie Barnes, Forestry, Fire & State Lands director. “The prevention campaign, referred to as Fire Sense, kicked off the hot and dry season sending out messaging across Utah asking Utahns to practice “Fire Sense”. 

Barnes said it was an important time for the Utahns to help prevent wildfires because nearly 100% of the state was classified in a drought throughout the summer and 90% of the state was in extreme drought. 

OTHER INFORMATION 2021 UTAH ANNUAL WILDFIRE REPORT 

  • 1,131 total wildfires 
  • 63,792 acres burned 
  • 99 consecutive days with a new start 
  • 922 fewer human-caused wildfires than 2020 
  • 93% of wildfires were caught at 10 acres or smaller 
  • 23 in-state & 91 out-of-state fire assignments for our Lone Peak Conservation Center crews 

 

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Utah had fewer wildfires in 2021 despite record drought