HONEYVILLE — In Mary Elizabeth Anderson’s back yard, a group of firefighters carefully monitored what used to be a number of old cottonwood trees, in a controlled burn.
“I am so grateful for their help,” Anderson said. “This is a big fire and a culmination of many limbs and trunks of trees that needed to be burned up.”
Box Elder County Fire Marshal, Corey Barton says his department has been busy with a number of similar burns, in hopes of reducing the amount of dangerous fuels.
“If we do have a fire come through this area, then we don’t have the big 1,000-hour fuel, sitting here on the ground, ready to burn,” Barton explained. “These trees are quite dry and dead and have been here for a little while, so they could really create a hazard for our firefighters if we do get a fire up in this area.”
Barton says those mitigation and prevention efforts are done as part of a change to the state fire policy a couple of years back, that gives the county funding for supplies and preparedness efforts. In addition to training and burning potentially dangerous fuels, Barton says they’re hoping to strengthen their monitoring abilities in some of the more remote areas of the county.
“(We’re) looking at putting a couple of new weather stations out there in the Promontory Point area, and maybe one further out west,” Barton said. “That will give us real-time monitoring in those areas, which helps predictive services a whole lot, rather than trying to base off Salt Lake or some place that’s 100 miles away.”
Barton says thanks to an especially wet May, the coming fire season is likely to be busy. He expects that much of the green vegetation around the area will start to dry up, and become more flammable toward the end of July.
“Whether it’s lightning strikes or cigarette butts off the freeway, this stuff is very dry,” Barton said. “It burns like gasoline and it just takes off.”
Barton is hopeful that the time and effort put in now, will help mitigate the likely busy season ahead.
“It’s something you hope is not going to happen. You know it’s going to,” Barton said. “You know we’re going to get the fires. It’s just the extent of how big they’re going to be this year.”