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John Daley ReportingTake hot, dry weather, add in some afternoon thunderstorms and winds and you've got the recipe for a potentially big fire. Today the National Weather Service is issuing a "hazardous weather outlook" for the West Desert and central and southwest Utah.
It's hot, it's dry, we've got plenty of dry fuels and all they need is an ignition source. The public land agencies are watching things closely today because we've got a hazardous weather outlook until midnight for the west desert, central and southwest Utah.
So far the state has not had any massive fires, but as the recent Dammeron fire in southwest Utah has shown, the conditions are clearly there for some big trouble. Fire managers closely watch something called the Haynes Index, which gives a rating to fire danger.
For most of the state the index is currently at "5" but for the southwest corner it's a "6"--that's the highest number on the scale. The worry today is “dry lightning"--some storminess rolling through the western part of the state, which could bring lightning without much rain.
Dave Dalrymple, State Fire Management Coordinator: "It depends on the circumstances, but one of the things we are concerned this year is that it is so dry out there after six years of drought. And we've got these ignition sources all of the sudden and we got a lot better chances of picking up fires. The other thing that's been kind of interesting is that nationally we haven't been picking up the kind of fires we normally do for this time of year. I'm afraid that when it does happen it'll be like someone turning a light switch on. We'll go from nothing to a lot in a big hurry."
So, what percentage of wildfires are human caused and what percentage are "dry lightning?" XX percent cause by dry lighting, the other XX percent is human caused. It’s a perfect warning going into the July 4th weekend.