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More than 1,200 fires caused by humans in Utah in 2020

FILE: This aerial shot shows the widespread scorch left behind from a June fire on Rocky Ridge in Juab County. Photo credit: T. Pollock

SALT LAKE CITY — More than a thousand fires were caused by humans in Utah during the 2020 fire season according to fire officials  — far more, they say, than a normal year. 

To be exact, the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands counted more than 1,200 fires caused by humans in Utah in 2020 — most, according to agency spokesman Jason Curry, from people just being careless. He also suggested higher traffic in state and national parks could have contributed. State and national parks in the state saw between 40 and 90% higher visitors than in past years. 

“We know that there were just more people out in the outdoors. That’s just a fact,” Curry said. “So there’s definitely more people out. There’s going to be definitely more fires.” 

In a normal year, Curry said he would expect over 700 fires caused by humans in Utah.

Firefighters managed to catch and control 88% of the fires before they could grow larger than 10 acres. But some of the fires caused serious destruction. Overall, Curry said 316,000 acres burned statewide, and 45 structures were destroyed — including four homes. The total cost to fight those fires added up to around $60 million. 

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