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Is It Too Late To Prepare For This Fire Season?

flickr: user makelessnoise
Machine Gun Fire in Draper Utah in 2010

With over 90% of Utah experiencing extreme drought, 2021 is one of the driest years on record. This fire season has the potential to be one of the worst seasons yet. Mike Kuhns, USU extension forester, joins me today to talk about wildfire prevention. 

How can we prepare for this fire season?

Mike Kuhns- Well, we're in it, so preparing could be a little late. If you need to remove large fuel from big trees and things, time is running out to get that done before possible risky fires. 

It's hot right now in Salt Lake City, and the heat and dryness that goes with heat are a big part of increased fire risk. People know that removing fuel is important- what they don't realize that fuel is everything from a big pine tree in the front yard, to some shrubs growing next to the house to even a deck.

Kailey Foster- So you brought up those parts of your house, such as a deck, which could be potential fuel for a fire. Is there anything you can do to prevent it from catching on fire?

MK- In the past, one of the biggest sources of fuel on a lot of homes is called the wildland-urban interface. Wildland-urban interface is the area between a developed city that doesn't have a lot of fuel to the wildlands next to the city. This area used to have a lot of homes with wood roofs. In fire-prone areas, this can be risky. Pretty much the entire surface of the house becomes a fire hazard. 

But that's not very common anymore, mostly because wood roofs are expensive, so people don't have them put on their houses anymore. It can also be the place on your property where the fire arrives. Most wildfires move across the landscape. They spread by embers going long distances through the air burning as they're going.

KF- In agriculture, we see the use of control fires often- is this something we might want to avoid this year?

MK- It may or may not need to be avoided. It's not a matter of whether there's a drought going on. What matters to a person who's trying to keep their place from burning down is what's happening on that day as the fire approaches and how they handle that.

Kailey Foster is a senior at Utah State University studying Agricultural Communications, Broadcast Journalism, and Political Science while also getting a minor in Agribusiness. She was raised in the dairy industry in Rhode Island where she found her passion for the agriculture industry as a whole. Here at USU, she has held various leadership positions in the Dairy Science Club and the local Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. She also also served as the 2020 Utah Miss Agriculture and is currently the 2021 Utah Ms. Agriculture. Here at UPR, she works on agriculture news stories and she produces agriculture segments such as USU Extension Highlights, the Green Thumb, and Ag Matters.