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Firefighters gear up for busy 2013 season

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Apr 1st, 2013 @ 8:35pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters are gearing up for what could be a busy summer. Despite the rain and snow Utah has had so far, experts say Utah is still in a drought, which will likely lead to plenty of dry fuels.

A team of 15 from Weber Fire District work as part of a cooperative going where the resources are needed. They help with fires all over the state and then go to places like Colorado and California. They were not home much last year and they expect that conditions could be even worse in the coming months.

While it may seem like Utah had plenty of rain and snow in the valley, the snowpack didn't quite reach 100 percent this year, according to Capt. Richard Cooper with the Weber Fire District.

"We're going to have a reduced amount of water coming in," he said. "The fuel moisture loads will not fully recover this year, so all our fuels could potentially be dryer Things could still change a bit, but I still anticipate a busier season this year."

Utah could likely see an abundance of dry fuels, much like those that led to a busy wildfire season in 2012.


"We start to plan for those grass fires in April (and) May. To have one in early March, when we still have snow on the ground, is unusual."

"It was more busy last year that I think we even anticipated," said Capt. Travis Peterson with the district. "Our trucks, our engines were gone all year."

Both Peterson and Cooper said they rarely went home last summer, spending most of their time wherever the resources were needed.

"We usually work between 14 and 16 hours for two straight weeks," Peterson said.

So far, early indications are the same statewide and firefighters are already gearing up for a repeat of 2012.

"We start to plan for those grass fires in April (and) May," said Deputy Chief Dane Stone with South Davis Fire. He added that their first grassfire of the summer season was about two weeks ago.

"To have one in early March, when we still have snow on the ground, is unusual," he said.

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