BLM West Desert District seeing an increase in human-caused wildfires

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) West Desert District has seen an increase in human-caused wildfires this year with 21 human-caused fires, making up 75% of the district’s wildfires. For comparison, in 2019, 45% of the wildfires in the BLM West Desert District were human caused.

This year’s 30% increase in human-caused fires is concerning for fire officials and land managers. An increase in human-caused fires has been witnessed across all suppression agencies in northern Utah, where 154 of the 170 wildfires this year have been human-caused.

“The BLM is working with agency partners to share information about fire prevention, yet our district and northern Utah’s statistics continue to show a drastic rise in human-caused fires,” said BLM West Desert District Fire Management Officer Geoff Wallin. “We are urging the public to be fire-aware when visiting public lands and to do everything possible to help prevent a wildfire."

The BLM West Desert District is home to approximately 86% of Utah’s population and many communities are impacted by this wildland-urban interface during wildfire season. Wallin recommends that public land visitors remain aware of their surroundings and are diligent in their activities to help prevent a fire.

To prevent a wildfire, the public should:

  • Fully extinguish campfires and avoid building fires when winds are 15 mph or higher
  • Choose a target shooting backstop free of rocks and dry grass – any bullet hitting rocks can create a spark
  • Follow the Fire Prevention Order that prohibits the use of steel-core and tipped ammunition between June 15 and September 30, and also prohibits the use of fireworks, paper lanterns, exploding targets, and other incendiary devices year-round on BLM-managed lands. Avoid welding over dry grass and other vegetation
  • Avoid cutting, welding, or grinding of metal in areas of dry vegetation
  • Check to make sure trailer chains are not dragging and are secure to prevent sparking
  • Fully extinguish and properly dispose of cigarettes
  • Avoid parking a hot vehicle over dry grass

Dry conditions due to a lack of precipitation this spring, above normal temperatures, and mats of unburnt fuel from last year are resulting in an above-normal fire potential. Utah fire season experts have posted a seasonal outlook for July – October 2020 which warns of drought conditions through the remainder of the month and drying out of heavier fuels. 

Public land visitors are also reminded to be prepared with a shovel, water, and fire extinguisher. State-wide fire restrictions and prevention orders can be viewed at: https://utahfireinfo.gov/active-fire-restriction-documents/.

For additional information, please contact the BLM West Desert District Office, at (801) 977-4300. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question with the above individual. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Release Date

Organization

Bureau of Land Management

Office

West Desert District Office

Contacts

Name:
Hannah Lenkowski