Fire departments are asking Cache County residents to abide by fire restrictions and be cautious approaching Pioneer Day after weekend fires — one caused by a resident shooting at exploding targets — burned nearly 100 acres.
“It’s just kind of a reminder that, ‘Hey, it’s started and let’s be ready for it,’” said Jason Winn, fire marshal for the Cache County Fire District.
A blaze ignited in Hyde Park Canyon Friday evening had several fire units working “all day” Saturday and Sunday, according to Winn. He said the canyon fire burned nearly 100 acres and was 95 percent contained on Monday.
The “significant fire” was caused by an individual shooting exploding targets, Winn said, noting the individual called 911 and was very cooperative with firefighters during the incident.
Cache County Sheriff’s Lt. Mikelshan Bartchi said his department will review the case with the county attorney’s office to determine whether charges will be filed. Bartchi noted that cooperation shown by the individual could factor into the decision.
With the help of more than 10 trucks and additional helicopter and airplane support, Winn estimated the canyon fire would cost nearly $1 million dollars.
“After it’s all said and done, I’ll bet it’s pretty close (to $1 million),” Winn said, which is why fire departments encourage people to be safe, avoid shooting firearms this time of year and especially avoid shooting exploding targets.
“They will come after you for reimbursement,” he added.
Winn said a second fire near Newton Reservoir on Sunday burned “a couple acres” before being extinguished and investigations had yet to determine the cause of the fire. Winn said the fire was exacerbated by the fluffy seeds of the area’s plentiful cottonwood trees.
“That cotton that falls out of those trees was all over the ground,” Winn said. “When that stuff catches, it just goes.”
Winn said the unincorporated county is currently under a fire restriction order from July 18. The order from the Utah Department of Natural Resources restricts the use of open fires, fireworks, tracer ammunition, exploding targets and small combustion engines without a spark arrestor. According to the order, violations may be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“This is just for the unincorporated county,” Winn said. “The cities are going to have to put in their own restrictions, if they want restrictions, for the 24th.”
Logan city has issued fireworks restrictions in various areas as a result of Governor Gary Herbert declaring a state of emergency due to wildland fires. Winn encouraged the residents of various cities in the valley to visit their city’s website or contact city offices to learn about potential fire and firework restrictions.
“Everything outside the city limits is restricted,” Winn said.