Traditionally, the fire season in Utah peaks in August. But it has been bad for weeks across the west with devastating fires in California and homes lost in Utah wildfires this month. Cache County Fire Chief Rod Hammer said things haven’t been too bad in Cache County…yet.
“August is stacking up pretty bad, so far,” he said. “The fire behavior throughout July has been a lot more active than we’ve seen in the past. Fortunately, the volunteer department (and) Logan City have been jumping on these fires really quick, and have kept them small. I think the biggest is 2 ½ acres in the county.
“But with the conditions, temperatures in the 90’s, humidity is dropping down to even the single digits, everything is just a tinderbox right now.”
On KVNU’s For the People program on Monday, Hammer said they’ve been monitoring the situation since the snowmelt period and the spring rains, which have created a lot of fuel load that has now dried out. The hillsides are brown and fires can start very easily.
“We call it a receptive fuel bed, it’s just waiting for a spark and as soon as it hits it’s off to the races,” Hammer explained. “A couple years ago just up across the (Idaho) border they had a fire start when a horse’s hoof struck a rock. That ended up starting that Clifton fire. So we’re at least in that condition right now, it’s that dry.”
The fire chief said it’s important for residents to follow the directives by the state, such as no open fires being allowed right now unless, locally, it’s on Forest Service land in a designated campground.
A small fire above Green Canyon may have been started by lightning, but he said one factor in our favor is not a lot of dry lightning storms so far. But the situation will worsen if we start getting those.
Hammer said they’ve been doing a lot of fire mitigation work this summer along the deer fences and canyons to decrease the fuel as part of a new program by the state. He hopes, over time, this will help reduce the chances of wildfire in high-risk areas. You can find a lot of useful information at www.cachecounty.org/fire.
AUDIO: Cache County Fire Chief Rod Hammer talks wildfire danger on For the People with Jason Williams