Fire restrictions extended in 11 Utah counties

A firefighter monitors burnout operations on the Castle Fire in Arizona, July 19, 2019 | Photo by Jackie Banks/Kaibab National Forest, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Due to dry conditions and continued wildfire control problems, state wildfire officials in 11 Utah counties have recommended an extension of the “closed fire season” this year.

The extension applies to unincorporated areas of Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne, Beaver, Iron, Washington, Garfield and Kane counties.

The state’s annual closure, which normally goes from June 30 to Oct. 31, will instead extend until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30, according to a press release from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Until that time, debris burning in the unincorporated areas of those 11 counties is not allowed without a permit. State Forester Brian Cottam signed the extension proclamations earlier this week.

Officials are taking the precaution in response to record fire danger for this time of year, since much of central and Southern Utah has gone without precipitation since June.

Fire behavior indices have shown that fuels are at record low levels and fire behavior models predict rapid fire growth. The drier grasses and brush are not only easier to ignite but more challenging to extinguish once they do catch fire. These conditions have made for fire behavior not normally seen in November.

Escaped debris burns easily get out of control and spread onto public lands every year threatening homes and the safety of the public.

Violation of the closed fire season is a Class B misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail. Those responsible for burning that results in a wildfire response can also be found liable for the costs to respond and suppress the fire.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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