In the late afternoon of May 30, law enforcement officers responded to a call about a fire on Bartlett Circle in Moab. An officer from the Moab City Police Department and another from the Bureau of Land Management arrived to find a fence on fire; the two were able to control the flames with fire extinguishers from their vehicles.
The Moab Valley Fire Department arrived shortly afterward and “finished dousing it and making it safe,” according to a report from the Moab City Police Department. The resident of the property adjacent to the fence acknowledged burning leaves that morning. Some smoldering material from that burn is presumed to be the cause of the fire, which damaged about six feet of fence.
Burning rubbish and yard waste is prohibited within Moab City limits, due to both fire concerns and concerns about air quality and public health. Unincorporated Grand County has burn windows in the spring and fall; permits must be obtained to burn waste during these times, and they are subject to air quality conditions.
In recent years, Moab has seen fires that started in brush in residential areas around this time. In 2019, a June fire on Arbor Court in Grand County was caused by burning weeds and damaged a home; the year before, the Cinema Court Fire, which was also human-caused and occurred in June, destroyed several homes and damaged others, displacing over 100 people.
Ongoing drought and high temperatures make for dangerous fire conditions. According to utahfireinfo.gov, Grand County is in the “very high” fire risk category. The same source reports that there have been 19 fires to date this year in Grand County, with 12 of those being human-caused.
Utah has already seen over 300 wildfires so far in 2021, with an outlook for a busy fire season. According to the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued by Predictive Services at the National Interagency Fire Center on June 1: “Significant wildfire potential is expected to increase through August from south to north, especially over the eastern half of the Great Basin in the mid to higher elevations due to lower than normal snowpack and significant long-term exceptional drought.”
Grand County lies in the eastern part of the NIFC’s Great Basin regional boundary. All of Utah is in a condition of drought, and nearly all of the state is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.
In addition to local burning prohibitions and restrictions, the Bureau of Land Management has banned the use of exploding targets, fireworks, or steel component ammunition on its lands.