‘Everything is drying out’: Provo issues fire restriction order
Jul 19, 2023, 6:43 PM | Updated: 6:43 pm
PROVO, Utah – Provo City’s fire marshal has issued a fire restriction order prohibiting campfires along the city’s east bench and canyons, except in approved fire pits.
“Due to the drying vegetation following a wetter than normal winter and the need to protect our wildland-urban interface and available water supply, it is incumbent on each of us to decrease the risk of catastrophic fire,” stated the order.
The new restrictions, which start Thursday at noon, are designed to protect the city’s watershed, as the ash and debris from wildfires can be detrimental to water treatment infrastructure.
“The restricted area includes all mountains and canyons beginning at the Springville City line and extends along the east bench of Provo to the Provo City line, then along Provo Canyon up to, and including South Fork,” continues the order.
Fires in those areas are only allowed in approved fire pits in campgrounds and picnic areas. Residents can also have fires in permanent fire pits on their property.
“What we are not allowing people to do is go hiking along some of the recreational trails that we have and just find a place and decide, ‘Hey, I’m going to build a little pit here and build a fire,’” said Provo City’s Deputy Fire Marshal Capt. Jeanie Atherton.
Atherton said the fire risk is growing higher each day.
“Around the Fourth of July, that really wasn’t much of an issue, but now it’s starting to dry out,” she said. “Here we are 20 days later, coming up on the July 24 weekend, and everything is drying out. The grasses are dying and turning the kind of amber straw color, and that’s a significant fire risk for us.”
Atherton said her department finds improvised fire pits often in the foothills and canyons. She’s worried that people aren’t paying attention to the fire risk because of the record snow and wet spring.
“Our concern is that people may be more complacent because we’ve had such a mild summer so far and not realize that we really are now kind of where we were this time last year,” she said.
Violations of the fire restriction order are a class B misdemeanor.