- Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Experts are crediting a rainy early summer for Utah’s slowest wildfires season since the state began tracking acres burned in 2002.

With a wet May and June, “we didn’t really get that curing of grasses until late in the summer,” explained Jason Curry, a wild land firefighter and spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

The division says just 10,200 acres burned in 2015, reported The Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1YR4kTg).

At 1,048, the number of fires was fairly typical, but Curry said the weather allowed firefighters to contain or extinguish many blazes while they were still small.

The wildfires also appeared later than usual. A September blaze called the Quail Hollow Fire forced a neighborhood to evacuate, but even that fire burned less than 30 acres.

The last wildfire was in October, when lightning sparked a fire at Oak Grove Campground, east of Signal Peak in Washington County. That blaze burned 943 acres before rain helped extinguish it.

Other states had a busier fire season. As of Dec. 18, 9.8 million acres nationwide had been scorched by wildfire in 2015.

That makes it one of only four years since 1960 when more than 9 million acres burned across the country. The other years were 2006, 2007 and 2012.

Utah fire officials were expecting a busy year, too. The warm, dry winter and a few February grass fires seemed like bad signs.

But by May, unusually heavy rainfall gave officials a reason to be optimistic.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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