Four new Utah wildfires started within 24 hours of each other
Jul 29, 2023, 5:08 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — It was only a matter of time before all that green vegetation in Utah’s mountains and valleys started turning yellow and brown.
“This heat really does dry them out a lot quicker,” said Karl Hunt, who is with Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands. “Things are really starting to ramp up as we’ve really gotten a lot of that summer heat coming in in the last couple of weeks.”
Read more: Utah Firewatch
On Saturday, Hunt said the wildfire season is starting a little later because of the longer winter moisture and snowpack. With recent temperatures going over 100 degrees, it creates a dangerous environment for wildfires to start.
“In the last 24 hours, there have been about four significant starts across the state,” Hunt said.
One of the larger fires is the Bettridge Fire burning just north of Wendover. It has grown to about 600 acres Friday evening, with wind pushing the flames fast because of those dry conditions.
“Things are definitely starting to dry out. We’ve seen that especially out on the desert,” said Kylee Stott, a fire mitigation technician assigned to the Bettridge fire.
As of Saturday, there are at least 14 active wildfires burning in Utah. A map from Utah Fire Info shows they are scattered across the state with fire crews battling them.
“It can limit our resources as far as availability for these bigger fires, and it can also limit our resources as far as responding to these other starts,” Stott said.
A lightning strike is believed to have started Bettridge, but what really concerns fire managers is that 196 wildfires in Utah so far this season are human-caused. That is more than naturally caused fires.
“A lot of these fires can be prevented and that’s why we try to enforce these little behavior modifications. We want to remind people that fire sense is common sense,” Hunt said.
He said common sense includes things like making sure your campfire is fully out, making sure any chains from a trailer you’re towing aren’t dragging on the pavement to create sparks, and not parking your car on dry grass.
“A little spark can cause a wildfire, so we need to do our part to limit those human-caused starts,” Hunt said.