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cities are dealing with burn scars from wildfire
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Utah reps criticize fire policies, call for action

Fire crews battling the Pole Creek Fire. (Photo: Utah Highway Patrol)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s congressional delegation is weighing in on the circumstances that existed before two fires exploded in size and merged to become a massive headache for area firefighters.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, has said he supports the efforts to fight the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires in southern Utah County, but he plans to address how they were allowed to burn so long that they became the problems they are now.

“Over the years, we’ve done well in the forests with our federal partner,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said. “That doesn’t mean that we can’t do better and that we don’t need to analyze these decisions and what we’re doing and the decisions we’re making, and I think that’s what’s coming up ahead of us.”

Curtis says it’s important to look at those federal and state partnerships to make sure fires like these get the attention they deserve in a timely fashion.

“Obviously, decisions were made about how many resources to put into it, and I think in the days ahead we’ll all want to know the answers to those same questions, and we’ll be asking them,” Curtis says.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, served as the mayor of Saratoga Springs during a major fire just a few years ago, and says that taught her some important lessons.

“There’s a lot to be said about the local agencies, the local people that are there, the local firefighters. They know those lands so well,” Love said. “And there’s something to be said about making sure that when they say something, their advice holds a lot of weight.”

However, Love says while she understands people’s frustration toward forestry officials, she believes now is the time to focus on preserving life, adding that she has been moved by the acts of kindness and service shown by those helping people displaced by the fires.