Utah Fire Season: A History
It’s summer in Utah and already there have been multiple brush fires and control burns that strayed a little too far.
However, this is unsurprising as summer means fire season and Utah has an entire history of legendary fires. Not only do wildfires ravage the land and impact wildlife, but also can have a drastic impact on air quality. Even those who may not be near the flames can suffer the effects of wildfire smoke inhalation.
Growing up anywhere in the Western U.S. essentially means being prepared to deal with fires all summer long. In 2010, I vividly recall the smoke and fires burning in Flagstaff, AZ that summer as the San Francisco Peaks smoldered.
I evacuated with the rest of the neighborhood across the highway. Imagine all of Ivins and Santa Clara needing to move in the span of a few hours. Houses were lost, the adrenaline was unreal, and it felt so much like something that couldn’t actually be happening.
About a month later, the flooding came and took everyone by surprise. Lives were lost.
Luckily for Utah, there haven’t been any fires on that level in several years. Though there are occasional brush fires and home fires, the damage doesn’t usually spread too far in most cases.
KUTV has a comprehensive spread of the largest fires from the past 10 years in Utah. (2017)
Milford Flat Fire
The largest Utah fire to date is the Milford Flat Fire which happened in July 2007. According to Earth Observatory (part of NASA) the fire began July 6 from a lightning strike and went on for several days. The fire was reported to be 97 % contained on July 19, 13 days after the fire began. The Milford Flat Fire burned over 363,000 acres of rangeland. It was a devastating blow to local ranchers.
Pole Creek Fire
This fire is more recent so not yet on the KUTV radar. In 2018, the Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest was the location of two fires, the Pole Creek Fire and Bald Mountain Fire. This was during a heavy drought and when winds changed on Sept. 10, the fires were joined, Wildfire Today said.
A total of 120,851 acres were burned. Several towns had to be evacuated as well.
Brian Head Fire
In 2017, a resident of Salt Lake County was at his family cabin in Parowan burning slash in June. Everything seemed fine above the surface, Cedary City News said, but underground the fire was spreading.
Even with a hose in hand, Robert Lyman was unable to get the fire under control once it spread to a tree trunk. The wind picked up and the fire began to spread. 71,673 acres went up in flames.
If you’re lighting a fire this summer, check to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep it under control!!!