Jed Boal reporting Utah's wildfire season could flare up, any day. So, more than 500- firefighters have been training in Richfield all this week.
Flames from a prescribed burn are just a warm-up for the fires these men and women will face in the months ahead.
Michael MeltonCentral Utah Fire Management Officer: “The way things are going, in the next couple weeks, we'll see initial attacks."
The fine fuels, like grasses, are still getting green and not carrying fire.
But, the heavier fuels, like trees, are stressed from the drought and ready to burn, especially in areas ravaged by insects.
So, now is the time to train
The Utah Wildfire Academy scraped up a week of intensive training by moving the classroom to the wild lands. The fresh firefighters are college students, local firefighters...even school teachers. Most enjoy and respect the wilderness.
Korby Fraughton/Firefighter from Parowan: “Hate to see a whole mountain go up. So you want to do the best you can."
All want to help...and earn extra money.
"Doyle Unsworth/Firefighter from Kearns: “I don't make a lot of money as a school teacher. This will help pay some bills and that."
Most of these firefighters in training haven't had a chance to get in the middle of a wildfire. Today they're getting a chance to see how the fire reacts in this wind and dry terrain."
Michael MeltonCentral Utah Fire Management Officer: “Under these controlled conditions they get to fight fire before it's the real deal."
Doyle Unsworth/Firefighter from Kearns: “It's pretty awesome working a real fire and use the theory we learned in class."
They focused on safety...personal protection with emergency shelters...and teamwork.
"Bryant Anderson/Firefighter from Loa: “Learn how to communicate...how to dig the line."
As for the fire forecast...
"Michael MeltonCentral Utah Fire Management Officer: “It depends what curveballs mother nature throws at us."
Utah has dodged most of those in recent years...but, all of the state is very vulnerable.
One of the big concerns, in the weeks ahead ... is the potential for lightning strikes.