County issues wildfire prevention reminder as fire season sets in

An aerial photo illustrates the importance of “defensible space” when living in wildland urban interface, June 29, 2012 | Photo by Nick Howell, Utah Bureau of Land Management

ST. GEORGE – With increases in temperature and recent windy conditions, spring vegetation in Southern Utah is beginning to dry out.

Washington County has a long history of wildfire, and in the late spring and early summer months most local fires are man-caused and are the result of carelessness. With the approach of fire season, Washington County Emergency Services reminds all county residents and visitors about the importance of being cautious with fire. As summer weather continues to dry out natural vegetation, the potential for fire will increase.

Residents can be careful with fire by:

  • Making sure you can legally burn in your area; check with local authorities and obtain a permit
  • Check the weather before you light a fire; high winds, high temperatures and low humidity radically intensify fire
  • Choose a safe burning site away from trees or bushes, buildings or other flammable fuels
  • Have a means to extinguish your fire quickly – water, an extinguisher and so on
  • Stay with your fire; don’t leave it unattended
  • Don’t burn garbage, waste, construction debris, plastic, foam, rubber or other offensive substances
  • Always extinguish a fire completely before you leave it
  • Don’t throw lighted material, including cigarettes, from vehicles
  • Be careful using tools that generate heat or sparks
  • Use fireworks with caution, obey fireworks laws and don’t use illegal fireworks. Various cities will issue their own fireworks restrictions; check city websites for specifics
  • Never park on, or drive through, dry grass
  • Be careful with the use of heat or spark-generating tools or ATVs

Anyone living in a wildland interface area should be prepared for wildfire. “Wildland interface” refers to places where homes exist in wilderness areas or where urban-wilderness areas intersect. Developments like Kayenta, in Ivins, are examples of homes that exist in the middle of a wildland interface.

The following are tips for preparing for wildfires in these areas:

  • Provide for defensible space around your home and outbuildings
  • Have a wildfire action plan for your family
  • Have important documents and disaster kits ready to go in an emergency
  • Leave early if a fire threatens your neighborhood

Being safe with fire is an individual effort that provides benefits for all.

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