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Utah sees record number of human-caused wildfires in 2020

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OREM – Firefighters are battling two human-caused wildfires in Utah and state officials said dangerous fire conditions will continue.

"It's been a record year for human-caused starts," said Kait Webb with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

Crews were still fighting two major fires Monday — the Range Fire in Utah County and Fire Canyon Fire in Summit County.

She said back in September that Utah surpassed the previous record, set in 2015, for the number of human-caused fires.

"We are well over 1,000 human-caused fires this year," said Webb. "That is a very high number."

According to state data, 1,108 out of 1,428 wildfire starts were caused by humans. That's 77% of all Utah wildfires this summer, compared to 60% human-caused in an average season.

The previous Utah record for human-caused fires was 937.

One reason: fire officials said more people are out recreating this year, starting more campfires, driving hot vehicles into extremely dry conditions more often and target shooting near dry brush.

"Something as simple as a small spark from target shooting, from a chain dragging on the road, can easily spark a wildfire," said Webb.

It's also been very hot and very dry since spring. As the extreme drought lingers, so will the fire season.

Something as simple as a small spark from target shooting, from a chain dragging on the road, can easily spark a wildfire.

–Kait Webb, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands

"It's not a normal fire season," said Webb. "It is longer than most. We're not generally in fire restrictions at this time of year."

If you plan to build a fire, make sure you know the rules.

"Fire season is not over, bottom line. And we don't have anything in the forecast for a season-ending event anytime soon statewide," she said.

Fire officials are asking everyone to be extremely cautious about anything that could start a fire.


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Jed Boal


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