Drop in wildfires attributed to rain, restrictions

SALT LAKE CITY — State officials attribute a decrease in Utah wildfires in recent weeks to a combination of rain and restrictions on guns and fireworks.

Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said not a single wildfire has been sparked by guns since a ban on target shooting in some rural areas took effect July 11.

He said only one of about 600 wildfires in Utah this season has been started by fireworks.

“I think everybody is on such high alert right now that I think those restrictions are taking a little bit stronger hold in people’s minds and everybody’s watching out for one another,” Curry said.

But he warned the fire season is only half over and fire danger remains high across the state.

“Right now, things are looking great, but when humidity drops vegetation dries out quickly,” he said. “We have to be cautious still.

“We’re still getting human-caused fires on a daily basis throughout the state. The higher humidity and the rain have allowed us to get a handle on those fires a little bit more quickly. But in reality they’re still happening and there still is quite a bit of danger,” he added.

On Sunday, crews were battling a lightning-caused, 5,000-acre wildfire in the Bureau of Land Management’s Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area west of Skull Valley and a 300-acre blaze where Utah, Juab and Tooele counties meet.

BLM fire information officer Cami Lee said both fires were growing, but they didn’t pose a threat to any homes.

The wilderness fire was burning brush and juniper woodlands and was 15 percent contained. The containment status of the other blaze wasn’t immediately known, Lee said.

No one is now allowed to discharge firearms in the unincorporated areas of Grand County. The State Forester placed the additional restriction to prevent costly and damaging forest and rangeland fires.

A person violating these restrictions can be fined a $1,000, plus be responsible for fire suppression and rehabilitation, as appropriate.