Fireworks cause blaze near Interstate 80 in Wanship
A fire that led to the disruption of traffic on Interstate 80 near Wanship Monday afternoon was caused by fireworks, according to the North Summit Fire District.
At around 2:57 p.m., emergency responders from the Utah Highway Patrol, North Summit Fire District, Park City Fire District and Forestry, Fire and State Lands responded to the fire at about mile marker 155 near Wanship, north of the freeway. No injuries were reported and no structures were threatened.
Tyler Rowser, a public information officer with the North Summit Fire District, said the two-acre blaze was mostly contained by around 3:45 p.m. Park City Fire District Batallion Chief Patrick Harwood said the fire started after an unidentified man pulled over to the side of the highway to discharge fireworks, catching the nearby grass on fire.
“It was easily contained and extinguished by North Summit and Park City units,” he said. “But, this could be a precursor of things that are to come this summer if we don’t get some moisture. It is pretty atypical to have a fire like that in the February or winter months. We are still dry with the lack of snowfall, which caused this one to run pretty good.”
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The Utah Highway Patrol is investigating the fire the because of its proximity to the freeway. The man was located and cited for reckless burning, a class B misdemeanor. He faces a fine ranging between $299 and $1,500.
Bryce Boyer, Summit County fire warden, said he is currently gathering information to turn over to the Utah Highway Patrol and Summit County Attorney’s Office to potentially seek reimbursement for the costs of putting out the fire.
Firework use is currently illegal in Utah. It is only allowed three days before and three days after July 4, July 24, Jan. 1 and the Chinese New Year. However, the Utah Legislature is currently reviewing the statute to potentially reduce the number of days when fireworks are allowed.
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The task force includes representatives from Park City, Summit County and several business entities.