May is designated as National Wildfire Awareness Month by organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Western Fire Chiefs Association. The month is intended to promote prevention and preparedness efforts among communities and areas prone to wildfires.

Brad Washa

Brad Washa, Utah State University Extension assistant professor of wildland fire science, on fire assignment.

As the weather warms, wildland vegetation, or fuel, starts to grow and later dries out, increasing the risk of wildfires. Because of this, spring is the best time to prepare for wildfires.

Much of Utah exists within a fire-dependent ecosystem, and many Utahns live in the area called the wildland/urban interface or WUI. Simply put, the WUI is where the “eves meet the leaves.”

Those who choose to live in the wildland/urban interface should accept a shared responsibility to examine and implement fire-wise concepts around their homes and properties. Without mitigation measures, wildfire remains the most likely, potentially most dangerous natural disaster faced by many communities in Utah. It could result in the loss of life and property and have significant economic impact.

The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, a national, collaborative, all-lands approach to wildland fire management, is applicable to Utah. The approach aims to reduce wildfire risks and enhance resilience by focusing on three areas: 1) Fire-adapted communities, 2) Fire-resilient landscapes, and 3) Safe and effective wildfire suppression response. The strategy involves stakeholder collaboration, risk sharing, and outcome-based investment across jurisdictions.

Consider these resources to help keep your home safe from wildfires.


With good winter precipitation and snowpack across Utah going into a relatively mild and wet spring, forecasts do not show substantial wildfire activity early this summer. However, as summer continues, areas with high grass growth could experience above-normal, significant wildfire activity as fuels dry out. The northeast part of Utah is highlighted for such potential in July and August on theNational Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

As we observe National Wildfire Awareness Month, now is the time to prepare for future wildfire events, not when smoke is on the horizon. As we enter the wildfire season, take to heart the cohesive strategy vision – to safely and effectively extinguish fire when needed; use fire only where allowable; manage our natural resources; and as a nation, learn to live with wildland fire.

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