Besides dominating the news over the past 2 weeks, the wildfires that are consuming thousands of acres across the state are taking their toll on Utahns' mental health. When confronted with natural disaster and personal tragedy, a range of stress, anxiety, and depression are common.
The national Disaster Distress Helpline is available to provide counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with the wildfires in Utah.
A wildfire near New Harmony, south of Cedar City, has destroyed 1 home so far and 7 other structures, forced the evacuation of about 40 homes, numerous farm animals, and led to the closure of I-15 between Cedar City and St. George.
Organizers of the anti-corporate personhood Move to Amend initiative have taken their request to get on the ballot in Salt Lake City this year to the Utah Supreme Court.
Despite having more than enough signatures, the city recorder’s office rejected the initiative, because state law doesn’t allow for local initiatives that don’t create actual legislation to appear on the ballot. The city council had planned to circumvent that law by voting to place the initiative on the ballot directly, but Utah code apparently doesn’t allow that, either.
It's already apparent that the recent and ongoing consuming wildfires in Utah will have an impact on the state's economy. Kerry Bringhurst spoke with Kyle Stevens, Deputy Commissioner for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, about the impacts on the agricultural industry in Utah. Livestock producers in Sanpete County have reported the loss of lambs and ewes in wildfires. In other areas of the state, livestock has been evacuated.
Better safe than sorry says the U.S. Forest Service. The agency has temporarily closed the popular Oak Grove Campground north of St. George in the Dixie National Forest because of extreme fire danger. A major factor in the move is accessibility. There is only one road in and out of the area and a wildfire could easily cut off campers from their only escape.
Despite a statewide red flag alert, the service also reports that firefighters have extinguished several abandoned campfires in the area near the campground in the past week.
The Forest Service calls the move a "proactive approach to safeguard the public during these extremely dry conditions."
Nearly 70,000 US communities are at risk this wildfire season, and with an average of 6.5 million acres burned each year, it's important for people to be prepared.
Pam Leschak of the U.S. Forest Service talked to UPR's Mackinzie Hamilton about the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Initiative, a national public service campaign that helps individuals, communities, and land managers to prepare for wildfire season.
60,000 acres burned in Utah last year and Leschak says, "This year's gonna be a lot more active than last year. It's early in the season and we're already seeing a lot of activity."
The Wood Hollow Fire, near the town of Fountain Green in Sanpete County started Saturday afternoon.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the communities of Indian Ridge, Elk Ridge, Big hollow, and Oaker Hills are under mandatory evacuation. A number of structures have been lost in the fire, some full-time residences and some seasonal vacation homes.
At least one life has been claimed by the Wood Hollow Fire. Sanpete County Sheriff's deputies and Sanpete County Search & Rescue members found an unidentified body during an assessment of the evacuation area Tuesday morning.
The fire is only 15% contained and portions of Highway 89 remain closed.
There is a Red Cross emergency shelter at North Sanpete High School (309 E 700 S in Mt. Pleasant).