Friday, June 22, 2012

Smoke on the Utah Lake Water

We all came out to Montreux,
On the Lake Geneva shoreline.
To make records with a mobile,
We didn't have much time.
But Frank Zappa and the Mothers,
Were at the best place around,
But some stupid with a flare gun,
Burned the place to the ground.
Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky. 
- Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water

Yup, it has happened again.  Another fire sparked by target shooting west of Utah Lake.  As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

The aptly named "Dump Fire" was sparked yesterday afternoon.  The National Interagency Fire Center  (NIFC) situation report this morning puts it at 600 acres, with 20% containment.  Fortunately, no structures have been lost thus far, although the Salt Lake Tribune update this morning suggests that attention will need to be given to protect commercial and residential properties today.  Given the large-scale southwesterly flow, there is a subtle campfire-like smell around the University of Utah campus with smoke filtering through Point of the Mountain.  

Wildfire conditions today are going to be difficult.  Very difficult.  Our nocturnal inversion is just beginning to burn off and winds at many locations are on the increase, although some sites near the fire remain light.  I suspect it is already blowing on the mountain.

The GFS forecast for this afternoon shows a developing trough off the Pacific Coast with dry southwesterly flow over Utah. 

This means hot, dry, windy (and gusty) conditions in and around the fire.  Yesterday, the Pioneer Crossing MesoWest site near Saratoga Springs had a high of 92ºF, a minimum relative humidity of 10%, and a maximum wind gust of 18 miles per hour.  

Today will be hotter, windier, and just as dry.  Let's hope that despite these difficult conditions, the fire can be quickly and safely contained.

Update: 10:25 AM MDT

Photo below of the Dump Fire was taken at 9:45 this morning by blog reader Jim Edman from Lehi.

Photo Credit: Jim Edman
Lone Peak is now fully obscured.  This is quickly becoming a very serious fire given the southwest winds.  KSL reports that a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for homes near the fire.  


  1. I can't imagine what the Four Corners states will look like after lightning gets into the mix. Some portions of the region really haven't had any decent precipitation events yet in 2012.

  2. It's unbelievable that the Utah state legislature won't pass a temporary bill banning sport shooting while the red flag warning stands. If government exists for any reason, it exists to provide defense for civilians. This is not an attack on the 2nd amendment. You can bear arms. Just don't shoot them at a grassy hill in the driest conditions in 20 years during a red flag warning. If anybody thinks that this is an overreach of government, then the basis for much of our law might as well be dismantled. Unlike the preaching of many, we do not have complete freedom in the United States because we have law, rules that protect us from one another. Unfortunately, it seems that once again it will take a major event in which human life or a huge amount of property is lost before government put 2 and 2 together.

  3. At least people should be held responsible for the damages from a fire they start... that is probably as much of a deterrent as a temporary law would be. Most people out in a remote area figure that no one is watching anyway.

  4. If I'm not mistaken, many of the target shooting fires this year have been started at a shooting range. In that case, you can't hold a person accountable for damages...perhaps the range can be. I think it is important that there is a red flag warning because with a warning, this should be avoided. Without a clear fire danger warning, I think it would be inappropriate to hold someone accountable for damages.