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Wildfire costs, scorched lands nearly double this year

September 22, 2018

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — The costs to fight wildfires in Utah are increasing by about $1 million a day right now, and authorities expect the season to last throughout October.

On average, there are about 1,100 wildfires in Utah that burn about 195 square miles (506 square kilometers) and carry a price tag of $50 million, State Forester Brian Cottam said.

So far this year, there have been more than 1,200 wildfires, 383 square miles (991 square kilometers) burned and a cost of $100 million, Cottam said during a Kiwanis Club meeting on Wednesday in Logan.

As of Wednesday, there were eight active wildfires in Utah, the Herald Journal reported . About 16 miles (40 square kilometers) were burned on Tuesday alone, Cottam said.

The drought has had a strong impact on this year’s fire season, he said.

Current conditions make it easy for small fire to become large fires if local fire department and county fire wardens fail to suppress a fire on initial attack, Cottam told the Kiwanis Club members.

“If we can’t get it at first crack, it’s gone,” Cottam said. “It’s taken off, and these are large fires.”

Cottam also serves as the director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, which is responsible for wildfire management on all state and private lands.

He said he thinks Western states need to focus more on fire prevention, and not just fire suppression.

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Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com

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