The wildfire season in Box Elder County has been relatively quiet for most of the summer, but two human-caused blazes over the past week serve as a reminder that dangerous fire conditions still exist out there.
Crews were still working early this week to extinguish a fire west of Park Valley that consumed about 4,000 acres of rangeland last week. Box Elder County Corey Barton on Monday said the Dennis Hill Fire is 100% contained, but firefighters have been monitoring the situation and addressing a few flareups that have happened among juniper trees in the area.
While they were still working to put the finishing touches on that fire over the weekend, word came in late Sunday morning that another blaze had broken out in the Promontory Mountains. By Monday afternoon, the Messix Fire had burned approximately 1,000 acres in the Messix Canyon area.
The Box Elder County fire and road departments were being assisted by crews from the State of Utah, as well as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Air support was brought in Sunday to fight the fire burning in mountainous terrain, and it was extinguished on Tuesday, July 28.
Barton said both fires were human-caused, but no further details were available Monday regarding how exactly they were started.
The Dennis Hill Fire started in the afternoon on Monday, July 20, near mile marker 44 on Highway 30. The blaze had scorched some 40 acres when firefighters first arrived on the scene, but spread quickly due to sustained 40 mile-per-hour winds in the area. Approximately 60 firefighters from state, federal, and local agencies including Garland, Brigham City, Fielding, Thatcher/Penrose, Willard, Corinne, Weber County, Box Elder County, State of Utah, and the Bureau of Land Management worked to get it under control.
Heavy rain in the middle of last week week provided a major boost in fighting that fire.
There have been no injuries reported on either fire. Some structures were threatened initially in both cases, but Barton said firefighters have been able to protect them and prevent any major structural damage.
He said the wind changed direction several times on Sunday, presenting a challenge to crews on the scene, but conditions were more favorable on Monday despite high temperatures and low humidity.
The two fires over the past week were the first major blazes in Box Elder County since early June, when three fires started by lightning burned about 10,000 acres in the western part of the county. Those fires didn’t destroy any working structures either, but some historic wooden railroad trestles were lost.
Outside of Box Elder County, there were six other wildfires burning across Utah as of Monday. Data from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands indicate that more than 80 percent of fires in Utah this summer have been caused by human activity.
Officials are reminding people that the summer fireworks season is over in the state. The next legal time to light fireworks in Utah will be New Year’s Eve.
Fire restrictions that took effect July 18 remain in place across the county. Open fires are prohibited in unincorporated parts of the county except for in designated campgrounds. The restrictions also prohibit the use of tracer ammunition, exploding targets, torch cutters or welders, and outdoor smoking.
“Please remember, you are responsible for everything you light and burn,” Barton said.