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Firefighters Concerned About Holiday Weekend

Firefighters Concerned About Holiday Weekend

Posted - Jul. 21, 2003 at 4:14 p.m.



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Sam Penrod ReportingSeveral wildfires popped up around Utah this weekend and almost all of them were ignited by lightning. The ripe fire conditions along with another holiday weekend just days away has firefighters warning us again about the extreme fire danger.

Along the foothills the primary danger to starting a fire is from people, such as fireworks or sparks. But in Utah's backcountry the real fear right now is lightning, which has been starting fires in the remotest of areas. As lightning bolts jumped throughout Utah over the weekend, several strikes ignited wildfires.

Fortunately enough firefighters were available to quickly contain all lightning-caused fires.

Kathy Jo Pollock, Interagency Fire Center: "We were able to jump on top of those fires very quickly with the resources we've had and hold those fires to an acre to ten acres. A few of them did get a little larger to 125 acres or so but everything was contained."

But with thunderstorms forecasted to roll across Utah almost every day this week, it's the dry lightning and dry conditions that has firefighters worried.

Kathy Jo Pollock: "Now we are getting the higher temperatures, we're back up in the 100 degree weather, and we're going to get some high winds and thunderstorms with lightning, so we're back up in the extreme fire situation."

Meanwhile, with fireworks back on sale for the 24th of July, fire officials are re-issuing fireworks restrictions. In most areas those restrictions are the same as July 4th. And with people heading to the mountains for outdoor recreation over the long weekend, fire officials are imploring people to follow fire restrictions and be extremely careful.

Kathy Jo Pollock: "Most of the fires we had before the lightning were started by people, either with mechanical, ATVs, a track-hoe something, or maybe a campfire, please be extremely cautious."

And even though there have been several fires in Utah, believe it or not firefighters say the so-called "busy fire season" isn't here yet, but expected very soon.

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