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Senate passes bills to better prevent, fight wildfires

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26 2013 4:00 p.m. MST

A helicopter drops water on the Wood Hollow wildland as it fire burns near Birdseye, Utah Wednesday, June 27, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Two bills that passed the Senate on Tuesday would give the governor and state forester more power to fight and possibly prevent wildfires.

SB62 would authorize the governor to use "all water sources as necessary for fire suppression," and SB120 would allow the state forester, in consultation with county sheriffs, to restrict or prohibit target shooting in areas where hazardous conditions exist.

Carrying a gun is a right, but target shooting is not, said Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, the bills' sponsor.

There were more than 1,500 wildfires in 2012 that cost $50 million to suppress, with $16 million coming from state funds. About half were human-caused, including 33 that were ignited by target shooting.

The Senate approved both bills unanimously. They now go to the House.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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