BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — It’s only mid-June, but hot and dry weather has made for perfect conditions for fires to rage out of control once they get going.
“I’ve been speaking to folks at the state and their prediction is that this year the fire season will be equal to or greater than the fire season last year,” said South Davis Metro Fire Agency deputy chief Jeff Bassett. “Add to that the fact that we’re not as wet as everyone thinks we are.”
He cited statistics that indicate most Utah reservoirs are 40 percent below the fill line.
“When that happens, water becomes a commodity that we need to conserve,” Bassett said.
The shortage is concerning because when firefighting requires water drops from helicopters, there may not be enough.
“We’re asking everyone to conserve water,” Bassett said.
Forecasters are predicting more hot and windy conditions, which further dry out vegetation.
To stay a step ahead of the fires, local governmental entities are restricting fires countywide, beginning with open burning.
Davis County Fire Marshal Deputy Ellis Bruch issued a statement banning open burning anywhere in the county.
There are exemptions for some agricultural operations, but homeowners may not burn any yard waste or garbage. Recreational fires may be permitted by local ordinance, as long as they have prior authorization from the local fire department. Campfires are authorized only in approved campgrounds where a fire pit has been installed, Bruch said in a press release.
South Davis Metro Fire Agency is initiating the “Ready-Set-Go,” program from North Salt Lake to Centerville for residents living in areas that interface with U.S. Forest Service land.
“We want to educate homeowners about defensible space,” Bassett said.
That means in areas where there’s a lot of scrub oak and other wild vegetation, fire officials urge people to clear a 30-foot radius around their homes.
“We know how people like to feel like they’re in the wilderness, but we’re asking they evaluate their homes,” Bassett said.
Building materials such as wood and shake shingles can go up in seconds. Even pine needles in a gutter are a hazard, Bassett said.
Fireworks restrictions will be similar to last year’s, Bassett said. No fireworks will be allowed east of Orchard Drive in North Salt Lake and, in Bountiful, east of 400 East. Starting at Chase Lane in Centerville, no fireworks are allowed east of Main Street.
“We suggest if you live in a restricted area, that you join family or friends who can light fireworks and make it an outing where it’s legal,” Bassett said.
Even better, enjoy the fireworks at one of the city celebrations.
“We have fire apparatus there and if something happens we can fight it,” Bassett said.
Fireworks continue to be illegal around Utah in any forest service land or land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.