With more than 80,000 acres of Utah land in flames, city officials are placing considerable restrictions on the use of fireworks throughout the state. Utah Governor Gary Herbert addressed reporters outside the state capitol Thursday with the State Fire Marshall and dozens of city mayors.
Thousands of Utah residents were able to return home on Saturday after a massive wildfire whipped through Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain last week. The fire began on Thursday and scorched more than 6,000 acres of land, coming dangerously close to homes but none were damaged. About 588 homes were evacuated Friday, but residents were able to return Saturday evening. Officials had determined a shift in wind pushed the fire back on itself. Steve Layton says the flames were about 100 yards from his home in Saratoga Springs when he evacuated.
A wildfire continues to burn Friday evening in Western Utah County near Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain. Mandatory evacuations have forced thousands of people out of their homes. Sergeant Spencer Cannon is a Public Information Officer with the Utah County Sheriff Department. He says that officers have been going to door to door, telling people they need to leave.
“Of course people don’t like doing that, but we’ll increase patrols in the area and make sure homes are protected,” said Cannon.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment on a proposed land swap in the Skull Valley area of Utah's West Desert. It would trade about 14,000 acres, mostly near the town of Terra, for a similar acreage of private land in and around the Onaqui Mountains east of Dugway.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance supports the trade. Field Director Ray Bloxham says this is an unspoiled area of the state.
The Utah Division of Water Quality has begun a long-term project to set new pollution standards for the Great Salt Lake. The lake contains significant levels of toxic pollutants such as arsenic, lead, selenium and mercury, among other things. Jeff Ostermiller, the chief of the Water Quality Management Section at the division, says some of that comes from industries surrounding the lake. But he says there are many other sources as well, including urban runoff from streets along the Wasatch Front.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved a plan proposed by Gasco to drill 1,300 new oil and gas wells in eastern Utah over the next 15 years. Some of the wells will be drilled in the Desolation Canyon area near the Green River. That has environmental groups warning of what they call a "disaster."
New restrictions to help prevent wildfires across Utah were put in place Thursday. The dry weather and lack of rain have created an early and intense fire season that is expected to continue if conditions don’t change.