Utah Fire Danger Not As High As Last Year, But Officials Remain Cautious

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's fire season isn't shaping up to be as bad as last year, despite the state being in its sixth year of drought.

Fire officials are still cautioning residents to be careful in Utah's wild lands and national forests, particularly over the holiday weekend.

``For this time of year we're in a real good position,'' said Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Laura Williams.

Only one small part of the state is under fire restrictions, compared to the entire state this time last year, she said. No camp fires are allowed in the Arizona Strip area in extreme southwestern Utah, near where the state's only wildfire was burning Thursday.

Officials expected the Square Fires Complex, started by a lightning strike 14 miles north of St. George, to be fully contained by late Thursday.

The lack of restrictions statewide are due in some part to the cooler, wetter weather, Williams said.

``But I hesitate to say that we're in better position because one stray spark could just send us to the races,'' she said.

Northern Utah -- the most populated area of the state -- is listed at normal fire danger, according to Nancy Lull with the Boise, Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center. The remainder of the state is listed as having above normal fire danger.

``Fire season has been somewhat postponed because of some of the spring rains in the area,'' Lull said. ``I do expect that to change, as soon as the weather gets more hot and dry.''

Several communities that abut the Wasatch Mountains will have fireworks bans for the 4th of July weekend, said state Fire Marshall Gary Wise.

``Fireworks are always a great concern. It's unfortunate that in reality it's the misuse of legal fireworks is always a concern,'' Wise said.

He cautioned parents not to allow children to play with fireworks without supervision. Children playing with legal fireworks is almost as much a concern as the folks who make the annual trek to Wyoming for the illegal variety, he said.