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Firefighters stress fireworks safety

Officials in Summit County say they do not expect to ban the sale of fireworks this year. But firefighters say they will be busy this Fourth of July.

"We’re expecting a lot of people in town," Assistant Park City Fire Chief Bob Zanetti said. "It falls on a Sunday and it just seems like every year when Fourth of July falls on a Sunday, a lot of people come up from the valley because they don’t celebrate there."

Fireworks that only travel about 10 feet can be purchased legally in Utah. Snakes and sparklers are allowed while bottle rockets, Roman candles and the aerial fireworks sold in neighboring Wyoming are against the law.

State law lets people buy safer fireworks for New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year, July 4 and July 24.

"As long as people use them responsibly, I don’t see a real problem," Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said. "There is a potential that, if used in the wrong place, it could start a fire. But it is probably relatively safe at this point."

In the past, elected officials in Summit County have banned the sale of even fireworks that are legal in Utah. This week, fire danger in the Park City area increased from low to moderate.

"We’re in the process of drying out now," Boyer said.

And fire conditions in some areas are becoming volatile.

"Have a hose handy," Boyer said. "If there is a lot of brown grass and stuff around, it is probably not a good area to be setting fireworks off in, even the legal ones."

There is still time for officials to ban fireworks for July 24, which marks the celebration of Pioneer Day in Utah, he said.

"By July 24, if we don’t start getting any precipitation, we will be in a very high state of flammability at that point," Boyer said.

Fireworks are not allowed on public lands. This includes Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and state land, according to Utah Interagency Fire Information.

"Human-caused fires are preventable," State Forester Dick Beuhler said in a prepared statement. "We can still have a good time celebrating and camping out, but common sense has to be our guide."

Tips for using fireworks safely include:

— Use only legal fireworks.

— Do not light fireworks near grass or other vegetation.

— Discard expended fireworks in a bucket of water.

— Use fireworks only as intended. Do not try to modify them.

— Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a designated person light fireworks.


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