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Front Page » September 2, 2003 » Local News » BLM Lifting Fire Restrictions in Carbon County, Southern ...
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BLM Lifting Fire Restrictions in Carbon County, Southern Utah

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Recent precipitation, lower temperatures and higher humidity have resulted in a reduced fire hazard on parcels administered by United States Bureau of Land Management in southeastern Utah.

The fire restriction order for the BLM lands in Carbon, Grand, Emery and San Juan counties will be rescinded Sept.3 at midnight.

However the BLM asks that citizens continue to be aware of possible fire dangers. Most public land is still stressed due to multiple years of drought.

Although last summer was the second largest fire season in the past 50 years, this summer was expected to be an above normal fire season and in some areas it has lived up to it's billing.

Every summer, Americans see the damage from wildfires in woodlands, fields, forests, deserts and national parks. Usually these wildfires come in the summer, after prolonged periods of drought, and last until the fall, when the potential for fire decreases dramatically.

The U.S. Forest Service has found that four factors contribute to the extent and intensity of forest fires: abundance of fuel, weather, lack of moisture and terrain.

Last year's destruction reflected the devastating effects of the fire season. In excess of seven million acres of federal lands were burned - more than double the 10-year average. In addition, more than 2,000 structures were ruined, indicated federal officials.

Wildfires frequently spread to surrounding communities, ravaging private homes, businesses and property.The fires devastate wildlife habitats, destroy ecosystems and degrade watersheds.

With the help of emergency crews, more than 10,000 homes were saved last year and 99 percent of all wildfires were suppressed within 300 acres of damage. But challenges continue to loom on the horizon.

"With the expansion of urban areas into forested land, combined with environmental changes, we will continue to see larger fires that cause more damage and threaten more lives," pointed out U.S. Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth.

Officials encourage Carbon County residents to exercise caution in order to avoid the risk of wildfires in woodlands, fields, the desert and in parks.

When working in the outdoors, residents should follow several wildfire prevention tips:

•Landscape and agriculture equipment should have properly working arresters to prevent sparks from exiting through exhaust pipes.

•Mufflers on landscape and agricultural equipment should be kept in proper working order.

•Operators should watch for rocks and metal when bush hogging or mowing.

•Hay-baling projects should be closely monitored.

Dry hay can ignite in balers.

•People should remain on the alert for sparks when using welding equipment to build fences or repair equipment.

Local residents should refrain from welding and use of spark-creating machines when the fire danger is high.

•Recreation enthusiasts should make sure spark arrestors are in good operating condition on all-terrain vehicles and trail bikes before venturing into the great outdoors.

People should also make sure spark arrestors on chain saws are in good operating conditions before using near grass or combustible vegetation.

The screen fits between the exhaust port of the piston and the muffler.

The arrestors help ensure that sparks generated by vehicles and equipment don't start wildfires.

•Campers, hikers, visitors and ATV riders should follow forest restrictions and closures.

Chainsaws may not be allowed if the fire danger is extreme.

When passing through or driving in an area of extreme fire danger, residents should comply with the following rules.

•Parking in tall grass or shrubs can start fires because the hot catalytic converter comes into contact with dry plant materials.

Don't park where vegetation is touching the underside of a vehicle.

Motorcycles and ATVs should have spark arresters.

The exhaust system on a vehicle can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees. It only takes 500 degrees to start a wildfire in the fire season.

•Do not discard smoking materials from vehicles, use interior ashtrays.

•Be aware of smoking restrictions in forests, national parks, BLM and state public lands.

Smoking may be restricted to inside vehicles or in paved parking areas.

When playing in the outdoors, campfires and other recreational fire hazards can pose serious threats.

•Find out about fire conditions before visiting an area and strictly observe any restrictions that may be in effect.

In many areas, all wood and charcoal fires may be prohibited, but gas or propane camp stoves are allowed.

Other areas allow campfires only in established campgrounds with fire grills or pits.

A few areas have banned all ignition sources, including camp stoves.

•When camping, select a site carefully.

Avoid fragile environments.

Use existing clear areas.

Return any displaced leaf litter or branches after use.

•Use fuel stoves where dry wood is scarce.

•Use only fallen wood.

•Before building a campfire, prepare the area by removing all leaves, twigs and other flammable material within 10 feet.

Use an established fire pit or make a ring of rocks at least 10 feet from nearby trees, shrubs, structures and debris.

•Keep fire suppression tools such as a shovel and a bucket of water on hand in case the campfire starts to get out of control.

•Never leave a campfire unattended.

•Be certain a campfire is completely extinguished before going to bed or if the party is leaving the area.

Use the "mix and stir" method, advised the state and federal agencies.

Pour water on the fire and douse the site thoroughly. Stir water and dirt into the coals with a shovel or stick until there are no embers and the ashes are cold to the touch.

Make sure the fire is dead out before leaving the camp site.

•Only smoke in areas that are clear of vegetation.

Completely extinguish cigarette butts and properly dispose of them.

For additional information about the Castle Valley area, statewide restrictions and general wildfire safety tips, Carbon County residents with Internet access may visit the web at

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