With a handful of wildfires still burning throughout Utah and Colorado, Governor Gary Herbert joined state fire officials this morning to brief reporters on current efforts to control them.
Firefighters were able to contain fires in Saratoga Springs and Provo last night before they caused major property damage any injuries. Now they’re focused on a 60-acre fire near the Green River, three fires west of Blanding on Elk Ridge and another on the southwest side of the La Sal Mountains.
Utah State Forester Dick Buehler says suppression crews are out in force.
“So things are dry, we’ve had the winds; we’ve had the high temperatures and the low humidity," Buehler says. "So here we are again about the same time as last year, going into what we think might be another rather interesting fire season.”
Buehler says last year the state battled more than 1500 fires; half of which, he says were human-caused. He and Governor Herbert urged residents to clear debris from the perimeter of their homes, and use common sense when target practicing.
Herbert today authorized the deployment of Utah’s National Guard to fight a fire in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which at last check had burned nearly 16,000 acres.
“We have the ability to help them," Hebert says. "They have a much more acute situation. The Governor told me today they may lose 450 homes. So it’s a tremendous loss of property value and as you already know we’ve lost some lives over there.”
As a result of federal sequestration, the U.S Forest Service will be short hundreds of firefighters and several dozen engines. Funds for thinning and clearing hazardous fuels have also been slashed.
Herbert says Utah has adequate funding for the coming fire season.