More Fires Burn Less Acreage in 2003

More Fires Burn Less Acreage in 2003

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- It looks like the 2003 wildfire season will end with Utah having had more blazes than last year, but with much less acreage burned.

Federal officials have counted 1,495 blazes in Utah so far, with 113,716 acres burned as of mid-September, said Don Smurthwaite of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

Last year, federal officials said 1,243 wildfires burned 237,427 acres.

"The drought put in place all the factors of what could have been an extreme fire season. But I think with a little bit of luck and cooperation with people who were careful with fire, we were able to avoid that," said Jim Springer, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

People, intentionally or unintentionally, cause about half of the wildfires and the rest are started by lightning.

The fire season has not officially ended, although the worst part is over and fire restrictions have been lifted.

"We don't actually have a date," Springer said. "Usually, we consider it (done) on the first good snowfall we receive."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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