“This going to be a long hot summer,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert who arrived by heiicopter to the Wood Hollow Fire in Sanpete County on Monday where about 60 square miles have burned, one woman has died and damage estimates have topped $7 million.
Sanpete County sheriff’s officials haven’t identified the body found or explained where the remains were found Tuesday morning while assessing damage in the area.
On Tuesday morning, officials announced that the fire was 15 percent contained and lifted some evacuation orders amid predictions they’d contain the blaze even further. But winds fanned the flames again by afternoon, forcing authorities to shut down part of U.S. 89 near Indianola amid fears that the fire would jump the highway.
Evacuations were called for Fairview, a town of about 1,100 residents near the blaze, as the fire grew larger and more erratic.
Herbert said already this year the state has recorded 402 wildfires, many of them caused by people starting illegal burns or target shooting in drought-ravaged areas.
“We’ve used the term common sense so much it’s almost become a cliche,” Herbert said. “But people, in fact, do need to use a little common sense when they are outdoors and make sure they are not inadvertently starting fires.
“And here’s the truth, there is a liability factor out there. If you’re negligent, if you’re reckless, if you’re intentional, the responsibility falls upon you if you create a fire that goes out and causes damage.”
The Governor reminded Utahns that fire officials are doing all they can. There has been a ban on fireworks outside of any Utah cities since June 15.
As Utah approaches the July 4th holiday amid some of the worst fire conditions in decades, officials are urging extreme caution. Of approximately 400 fires this season, at least 380 have been human caused,.
Commissioner of Public Safety Lance Davenport urged extreme caution now that fireworks are on sale through July 24.
“You are only allowed to use them from July 1 to July 7,” Davenport explained, “then during a period from July 21 to July 27. That is much different than last year so we call up on everybody to comply with that.
“That will help in respect to the concerns we have about starting fires. The other thing that is in place this year that will limit their use is there is a time restriction.”
Davenport said unlike last year, fireworks can only be used this year between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. He says people need to be aware that this has been the worst fire season so far that we’ve had in decades and it could get much worse before it gets better without the cooperation of the people of Utah.