State officials issued a fire restriction order due to extremely dry conditions experienced across Utah. Additional advisories and guidelines have been issued for national parks and state monuments, as well as campfires.
Utah Interagency Fire – a collaboration of agencies that includes the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Utah Forestry, Fire and Public Lands – released a state-wide fire restriction order on Thursday.
“Due to current and forecasted weather conditions coupled with the extremely dry condition and heavy loading of vegetation throughout the State of Utah, the State Forester has determined that measures must be taken to prevent costly and damaging forest and range-land fires,” Interagency officials wrote.
Areas covered by the order include all unincorporated private and state lands. However, the order does not extend to incorporated towns and cities.
In accordance with current state law, the Interagency listed the following acts prohibited as of June 14, and will remain so until further notice. Violation of the prohibition is considered a class B misdemeanor under the order.
- Setting, building, maintaining, attending or using open fires of any kind, except campfires built within the facilities provided for them in improved campgrounds, picnic areas or permanently improved places of habitation.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared to mineral soil.
- Discharging, or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices.
- Cutting, welding, or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation. The following persons are exempted from the above prohibitions:
- - Persons with a permit specifically authorizing the prohibited act at a specific location.
- - Any state or federal fire officer or firefighting forces in the performance of an official duty.
National parks and state monuments
Along with the general order, Kate Cannon, superintendent of the Southeast Utah Group of the U.S. National Park Service, also announced restrictions in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments.
“The fire season has arrived extremely early to Utah this year and firefighting resources are likely to be stretched to the limit,” Cannon said. “In cooperation with local, state and other federal agencies, we must take these precautions to ensure the safety of park visitors and resources.”
- Fires are permitted only in designated fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic areas. All open fires are prohibited in backcountry campsites.
- Smoking is also prohibited, except within enclosed vehicles, parking lots or developed areas that are cleared of all flammable materials for at least three feet in diameter.
However, petroleum fueled stoves and grills will still be permitted in designated backcountry campsites, as well as developed campgrounds and picnic areas. In the river corridors where there are no designated campsites, petroleum fueled stoves may be the safest method for cooking, however charcoal fires will be allowed if completely contained within a metal fire pan.
Zion National Park is observing fire restrictions set forth for Washington County and the Arizona Strip on May 30. Those restrictions can be found here.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources also issued campfire guidelines for “permanently improved places of habitation.” These places are defined as “homes or cabins that are fixed in place and the area surrounding the structure is improved and the vegetation modified to mitigate fire danger,” according to the DNR website.
- Campfires must be contained within a pit 18 inches deep into mineral soil absent of roots of any other organic materials or solid ring made of non-combustible material that is at least 18 inches in height that will contain the fuel wood and coals while shielding the ashes from being blown by the wind.
- Maintain 18-inch depth of the pit by removing build up ash and other materials; assure disposed materials are completely extinguished
- The campfire must be at least 15 feet away from any combustible vegetation or structures, vertically and horizontally. Fire resistant vegetation as part of the landscaping is excluded.
- One person, 18 years old or older, must attend the fire at all times.
- Ten gallons of water or more must be dedicated and immediately available on-site for fire suppression.
- At least one standard sized shovel must be dedicated and immediately available on-site for fire suppression.
- Campfire must be completely extinguished, cold to the touch, when not attended.
Persons responsible for escaped or unattended campfires are subject to prosecution and suppression costs.
A reminder on “hot work”
The Rockville/Springdale Fire District came out with its own fire restrictions on May 10. Restrictions include no burning, no campfires and no use of fireworks within the district. However, a warning concerning “hot work” was also given.
According to the fire district’s order, hot work is described as “any activity that can create spark and excessive heat.”
“We would also like to remind everyone to take great caution when conducting ‘hot work’ such as grinding, welding, cutting…to be extremely careful,” Ryan Ballard, the district fire chief, wrote. “Take appropriate precautions before work begins. Clear flammables from the area, have a hose line charged and ready, wet down the area and have a fire lookout while work is being done and until work has cooled.”
Other reminders on fire safety: Tips on how to stop human-caused fires.
- Washington County and Arizona Strip fire restrictions
- Tips on how to stop human-caused fires.
- Utah Fire Information Center