Preventing wildfires is everyone’s responsibility

by Becky GINOS

Davis County is a beautiful place to live with its tree covered rolling hills and scrub oak. But as temperatures climb above 100 – one tiny spark can spell disaster.

“We live in a desert state,” said Leanne Fox, communication and prevention coordinator for Utah Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “A lot of fuels are still green so we think there’s not a hazard. It might be green and still burn. We had a fire at 8,500 feet in elevation in the springtime when things were green. We’re used to wild land fires, so sometimes it’s so familiar to the public it’s not sinking in.”

Fox said we live in the mountains and trees in Utah, which is beautiful, but residents need to be proactive about being prepared for wildfires.

Here are some tips on creating defensible space around homes near fire prone areas:

• Incorporate fire wise materials in the construction of your home such as replacing cedar with metal tile, and scrub oak with maples

• If you live next to a natural area, create a buffer zone for firefighters by removing weeds, brush and other vegetation. This helps keep the fire away from your home and reduces the risk from flying embers

• Use native plants in landscape gardens

• Clean rain gutters and roof of leaves, needles and debris

• Store firewood and other combustibles at least 30 feet from your home

• Make sure chimney is screened with ½ inch or smaller wire mesh

“Utah is a great recreational state,” said Fox. “The problem is that creates a lot more ways for a fire to start. Vehicle starts are huge, like a car or ATV that catches dry grass on fire.”

Campfires are often the reason large wildfires start as well. “Not staying with it (fire), a change in wind, or other ways it gets out of control can cause an escaped campfire,” Fox said. “We’ve already had one started by campers who had put water on their fire then drove away and it started a wildfire. Most likely when they poured water on it the ash spread outside of the fire ring and the ash sparked a fire. If it’s too hot to touch it’s too hot to leave. Make sure the coals are cold.”

Fox recommends looking up campfire restrictions on public lands. “If you don’t need to have a fire don’t risk it,” she said. “There’s too great a chance it can get away from you.”

With July 24 approaching, Fox warns residents to be cautious with fireworks. “Utah has extremely strict fireworks restrictions,” said Fox. “The governor just put us in a state of emergency pertaining to fireworks. Be aware of when they’re prohibited.”

She also recommends talking to kids about matches. “If they’re just trying to see if something will burn – it will,” said Fox. “Recently there was a fire in West Point caused by kids playing with matches in a pasture. They were shocked at how fast it got away from them.”


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