Firefighters prepare for wildfire season as new spring growth dries out

Jun 26, 2023, 6:35 PM | Updated: 7:00 pm

Record snowfall and water runoff have wildland firefighters now gearing up for what could be a very busy year.

That was the word from fire officials with the State Forestry of Fire as they celebrated the groundbreaking of a brand new fire operations center in South Salt Lake on 3300 South and 700 West.

“This is basically the hub of wildland fire in Utah,” said Jesse Trembly, Deputy Fire Management officer with the Lone Peak Fire program. “Do we have concerns this year? Obviously! We had a historic year with the amount of moisture we received and the amount of snowpack, and with all that moisture comes spring growth.”

And that growth is expected to dry out eventually.

“All that grass is going to dry out one of these days, and when it does, it’s going to be off to the races,” said Brett Ostler, the State Fire Management officer with the Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands. “We are not anticipating a huge fire season in the high elevations, but the low elevation of what we call a desert year is going to be significant.”

Ostler said it all depends on mother nature and how hot and dry it gets.

“They are telling us by the end of July into August that’s going to dry out and be ready for burning,” he said.

Various Utah wildfire officials at a groundbreaking ceremony in South Salt Lake for a new fire operations center. (KSL TV)

Ostler explained that the new state-of-the-art operations center, which is expected to be done next year, will help them be better prepared to fight fires.

“What it’s going to provide is a better-coordinated response for our resources throughout the state. We are spread on two different locations [right now],” Ostler said.

“Putting us in the same building gives us a quicker avenue to talk and move folks around as needed,” Trembly added.

Trembly said there is no telling what kind of a fire season it will be right now, but as Utah heads into the July 4th weekend with 90-degree temperatures and no moisture predicted, firefighters say play it smart. Don’t be deceived by all the greenery in the mountains. It can still catch fire.

“Just because it’s green and snow in the mountains, don’t think that a fire won’t happen because it will, and it can happen in a moment’s notice.”

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Firefighters prepare for wildfire season as new spring growth dries out