2018 projected to be among Utah’s worst wildfire years

In this this photo taken Monday, July 2, 2018, and provided by Darren Lewis, a wildfire burns near Strawberry Reservoir, Utah. The fire is threatening a cabin that Lewis and his extended family planned to spend the Fourth of July at in the Utah wilderness built nearly 50 years ago by his father and uncle. Instead, Lewis and his family will spend the holiday nervously waiting to hear if a half century of family memories go up in smoke. (Darren Lewis via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — This year is projected to be among Utah’s worst in terms of land burned.

Estimates provided by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands show wildfires have burned more than 180 square miles (466 square kilometers) so far in 2018. the Deseret News reported.

Estimates also show more than $47 million has been spent on Utah’s wildfires so far this year. Utah’s six active wildfires account for most of the year’s costs so far — an estimated $40.5 million.

Most of the costs are divided among the relevant agencies — federal, state or county.

Fire costs change by the minute,” said Wade Muehlhof, regional spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “Every time a plane takes off, every time a crew is called upon a fire.”

The data come from estimates and projected costs published by the National Interagency Coordination Center, based in Boise, Idaho. The center pulls data from firefighting agencies throughout the country and publishes daily reports.

Firefighting costs in the state reached an estimated $47.4 million in 2017, according to numbers provided by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

Those costs totaled $37.2 million in 2016.

In the land burned in the past five years in Utah, 2018 already comes second only to the 2017 fire season, which consumed 344 square miles (891 square kilometers).

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