So far this year, the cost of fighting fires in our state tops $80 million, far exceeding the average. Utah’s on the hook for $30 million in an unusually busy fire season.
The Rosecrest Fire in Herriman is one of 1260 fires in Utah this year, 160 more than normal.
“It went from within moments from being right here, it raced over here,” Dave Winters said, pointing to a burned area just feet from his home.
If not for firefighters, his home and everything inside would be gone.
“It’s been extremely busy and people are dog tired,” Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands spokesperson Jason Curry said.
Wildfires burned more than 300,000 acres in 2018, nearly double compared to a regular year, according to Curry. About twenty fires cost $1 million or more, five times than normal.
“This year is far more expensive because we’ve been fighting the types of fires that are in heavy timber with the wildland interface. They’re very complex, they’re very expensive,” Curry said.
The reasons come down to a large amount of fuel and the drought, according to Curry.
At least 86 homes were lost to fires. Because of the firefighters, Winters’ home wasn’t among them.
“If they hadn’t been here so quick, if they weren’t able to get the air asset so quick, we would have lost more than we did. Thank you is not strong enough,” Winters said.
The Utah legislature allocates about $2.5 million to fight wildfires every year.