‘Damn worried’ about the Fourth
July 3, 2007
Parkites can celebrate Independence Day but it is best that they not be caught with bottle rockets. Those, and lots of other types of fireworks, are banned.
But City Hall was unable to prohibit all fireworks on the 4th of July, leaving the police and firefighters hoping the pyrotechnics do not cause a blaze in the current tinderbox conditions. People cannot use fireworks that travel more than 10 feet in the air or 10 feet on the ground, including popular selections like bottle rockets.
A citywide ban starts on July 8 and runs until at least Oct. 1, according to Ron Ivie, Park City’s chief building official and the fire marshal. The ban includes Pioneer Day, when fireworks are popular as Utah celebrates the arrival of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
"I’m damn worried — the hot, dry days with high winds," Ivie says about the potential of a fire on Wednesday.
He explains state laws require extreme conditions for a government to ban fireworks. He would have had to make that determination a little while ago but the conditions were not as dry as they are this week and he did not move against them.
After the weather changed, there was not enough time to ban them, Ivie says.
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"There was nothing I could do about getting things done quickly enough," he says.
Tricia Hurd, a spokesperson for the Park City Fire District, says people should realize sparklers, which lots of people see as an alternative to firecrackers, can be dangerous. They burn at a high temperature, Hurd says.
"I don’t know why people get in their mind they’re safe," Hurd says.
At The Market at Park City, manager Mike Holm reports firework sales seem to have slipped from 2006. He says Parkites understand the worries.
"I don’t think they’re doing as well as they’ve been in the past," he says. "I think people are taking heed or watching for fire danger up here."
Ivie says The Market and Albertsons are the only places inside the city permitted to sell fireworks.
The Park City Police Department last week responded to at least three fireworks-related calls, previewing what is expected to be a busy week for officers.
According to the department, two cases occurred on June 26 and the third on June 25. At 9:08 p.m. on June 26, fireworks were reported on the 1300 block of Little Kate Road. Officers spoke to the people about the dangers, the department says.
In a case earlier that day, at 11:13 a.m. on the 1800 block of Kearns Boulevard, the police were called after kids were reportedly seen lighting firecrackers. Officers found the firecrackers were legal but the kids were young. The police told them to stop until an adult arrived. The day before, on the same block, the police warned someone with fireworks at 10:11 p.m.
"With as dry as it is, it really is a concern a fire could start and cause all kinds of serious problems for us," says Rick Ryan, a Police Department lieutenant.
He says the police plan to seize illegal fireworks and officers late at night will demand people stop using those that are legal because they are noisy. He says the police turn over seized fireworks to firefighters so they can be destroyed.
"We expect we’ll have a lot of people setting off fireworks," including those that are illegal, Ryan says.
Ivie blames three fires in 2006 on fireworks — in Chatham Crossing, on upper Norfolk Avenue and in the Aerie. He says fireworks-caused fires occur almost every year but none have burned out of control. If fireworks cause one, Ivie says he can pursue the person who set them off for the costs of putting the fire out.
He suggests Parkites attend the fireworks display at Park City Mountain Resort, scheduled at dusk and capping the daylong celebration in Park City.
"Come and enjoy the 4th of July, the public celebration," Ivie says. "It will be a lot better fireworks."