SALT LAKE CITY — A red flag warning is in effect for much of Utah today, with highs along the Wasatch Front into the lower 90s and triple digits for St. George.
“It goes all the way til Thursday night at 10 p.m.,” says Grant Weyman, KSL Meteorologist. “It covers a good portion of the state including the Wasatch Front and northern, central parts of Utah as well.”
Windy conditions coupled with low humidity mean the risk of a fire starting are high, and the concern is that it would quickly spread out of control.
“We figured this would happen as the winds start to pick up today,” Weyman says. “Along with that, we’ve got very, very low humidities, so we’re very, very dry, very warm, and then we’ve got the winds picking up, so any fires in these conditions will certainly spread rapidly.”
Weyman forecasts slightly cooler temperatures for northern Utah the rest of this week, but no chance of real storms or precipitation in sight.
The National Weather Service issues red flag warnings under very specific conditions: heat, low levels of moisture within vegetation, extremely low relative humidity for an extended period of time, and sustained strong winds.
Utah forestry officials recommend all homeowners make sure their homes have an area of “defensible space” to help minimize the risk that a wildfire will turn into a house fire. Their tips* include:
- Clean roof surfaces and gutters of pine needles, leaves, branches, etc., regularly to avoid accumulation of flammable materials.
- Remove portions of any tree extending within 10 feet of the flue opening of any stove or chimney.
- Maintain a screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. Mesh openings of the screen should not exceed 1/2 inch.
- Remove branches from trees to height of 15 feet.
- Dispose of stove or fireplace ashes and charcoal briquettes only after soaking them in a metal pail of water.
- Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
- Propane tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire.
- Keep area clear of flammable vegetation.
- All combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc. should be kept away from structures.
- Garden hose should be connected to outlet.
- Addressing should be indicated at all intersections and on structures.
- All roads and driveways should be at least 16 feet in width.
- Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake and bucket for water.
- Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes.
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