A dry beginning of the water year has prompted state wildfire officials in 11 Utah counties to extend “closed fire season” this year.
This means there is no open burning allowed in unincorporated areas of Sevier, Wayne, Piute, Garfield, Sanpete, Juab, Millard, Beaver, Iron, Washington and Kane counties.
The state’s annual closure, which normally runs from June 30 to Oct. 31, will instead, extend until at 11:59 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30.
Until that time, debris burning in the unincorporated areas of those 11 counties is not allowed without a permit, according to Mike Melton, fire management officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
State Forester Brian Cottam signed the extension proclamations earlier this week.
Officials are taking the precaution in response to record fire danger for this time of year as much of central and southern Utah has gone without precipitation since June. Fire behavior indices have shown that fuels are at record low levels and fire behavior models predict an explosive situation for wildfires to expand.
Escaped debris burns escape control and spread onto public lands every year threatening homes and the safety of the public. Violation of the closed fire season is a Class B misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail. Those responsible for burning that results in a wildfire response can be found liable for the costs to respond and suppress the fire.