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Fire officials warn Carbon residents of wildland dangers

By Sun Advocate

After a relatively quiet fire season, an increase in human-caused blazes is creating concern with United States Bureau of Land Management officials.
In a recent press release, the officials caution Carbon County residents to be extremely careful and remember that the vegetation is dry and conditions are ripe for active large fires.
In the past three days, there have been four significant human-caused fires throughout Utah.
Although these fires are still under investigation, it is likely that one of the major culprits has been sparks from automobiles, trucks, all-terrain vehicles, backhoes, target shooting and other sources, said the BLM release.
Additionally, fires caused by unattended campfires are on the rise.
“With fall approaching, it is easy to forget that vegetation has dried out during the summer and wildland fires are as much a danger now as they were earlier in the season,” said Sheldon Wimmer, Utah BLM fire management officer. “Currently, we are in an explosive fire situation and need the public to pay more attention to simple fire prevention rules, especially those related to spark arresters and campfires. Even parking in grasses next to the highway can start a fire.”
Advanced preparation, clear thinking and wise actions may have prevented four of the human-caused fires, said the release.
Carbon and Emery County Fire Warden Rudy Sandoval had similar sentiments when asked about the dangerous conditions.
“Even all-terrain vehicles in dry grass have a high potential for starting a fire,” said Sandoval. “Everyone just needs to be very careful at this point.”
According to the BLM, the public should practice several precautionary measures when camping, hunting or venturing outdoors for the day. Carbon County residents should:
•Keep a shovel and bucket next to campfires at all times. People should never leave a campfire burning.
•Install and maintain a spark arrester on ATVs, chain saws and generators.
•Clear all grass and weeds 10 feet from any combustion engine, spark or flame.
•Never drive or back into dry grasses.
•Carry fire extinguishers in vehicles and on equipment.
•Exercise extreme caution during all outdoor activities.
Utah officials want to make sure that even though fire restrictions throughout Utah were rescinded as of 12:01 a.m. Aug. 8, individuals still need to remain cautious when having camp fires.
“With hunting season coming up there is going to be a good deal of camping going on and although conditions have gotten better there is still the potential for things to get out of control quickly,” said Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont.
He cited lit cigarettes being thrown from moving vehicles as a frequent cause of wildfires.
“Don’t throw a lit cigarette out while hunting or camping. If you are going to throw it out the window make sure it is completely doused.”
He also reported, however, that citizens can play a major role in assisting local departments in putting out wildland blazes before they get out of control.
“Call immediately as soon as you see a fire,” said the Price chief. “Use 911 or call dispatch but let someone know as soon as possible.”
It is also important that those reporting the fire give a detailed location of where the fire is. He reported that some small fires can be very difficult to find if the individual reporting the blaze gives a large generalized area when calling in the fire.
Bedont also requested that the caller leave contact information when reporting any fire.
Any fire that is not the result of lightning is human-caused and may have federal, state or local civil and/or criminal statute liability, pointed out the Utah BLM officials. The penalties for maliciously or negligently starting a fire can be up to five years of jail time and liability for suppression and rehabilitation costs.
United States policy requires that all human-caused fires on federal lands be investigated and mandates that cost recovery be pursued, concluded the Utah BLM officials.

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