Amid triple-digit temperatures and the first extended dry spell of 2023, fire officials in southwestern Utah are imposing new restrictions on fireworks, campfires and other activities starting this week.
Officials with the Color Country Interagency fire group announced late Sunday that they were worried enough to move to “Stage 1” fire restrictions in most places, banning fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices outside of incorporated cities and placing limits on shooting, campfires, cutting and welding , heavy equipment use and smoking, among other activities.
The new rules, which went into effect at midnight going into Monday, affect all unincorporated federal, private and state lands in Washington, Kane, Iron and Beaver counties.
The same rain and snow that set records across much of the region during the winter and spring might actually help fuel more wildfires this summer, or at least raise the potential for serious fires, officials warned.
Read here to learn moreRecord rain and snow might actually increase wildfire danger this year, officials say
“July through September are typically the driest and hottest months of the year,” said Dave Harmon, the fire management officer for the Southwest Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands. “Because of the higher-than-average spring precipitation, there is more grass on Utah’s landscapes. On windy days, wildfires have the potential to become larger because there’s more available fuel.”
The changes come ahead of a July 4 holiday predicted to come in the midst of the season’s first major heat wave, with Tuesday’s high temperature expected to reach 105 degrees in St. George.
Weather forecasts for the next two weeks are even more worrisome, with the National Weather Service anticipating temperatures to rise above 100 degrees in the St. George area every day until at least mid-July. The forecasts also anticipate persistent winds, with most days pegged for southwest winds of about 15 miles per hour on average.
No active wildfire warnings were in place as of Monday, but continued hot, dry weather could quickly see conditions worsening.
The new rules, which apply to all unincorporated private and state lands in all four counties, as well as all federal public lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management, include the following restrictions:
- No campfires or open fires outside of agency-improved and maintained campgrounds and home sites in southwest Utah. Running water is required on cabins or homes on unincorporated private land. Devices fueled by liquid petroleum are allowed.
- No discharging of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices outside of incorporated city limits or on public lands (city-specific restrictions may apply). Fireworks are always prohibited on all Federal lands.
- No shooting of exploding targets or tracer ammunition.
- No cutting, grinding, or welding of metal in areas of dry vegetation. This includes acetylene torches.
- No use of equipment without a working and properly maintained spark arrestor (if required).
- No smoking near vegetation or outside of a developed recreation site, personal vehicle, or building.
- No open fires of any kind are allowed in Zion National Park.
- Campfires are allowed in the agency to improve and maintain campgrounds at Lava Point.
- Campfires are allowed at Glen Canyon in established campgrounds within established rings and below the high-water mark, only in areas completely void of vegetation.
For detailed local maps and additional information, visit www.utahfireinfo.gov and www.wildlandfire.az.gov.