Park City: Ooh and aah pro fireworks, but don’t light your own
Emergency officials in Park City started the warnings about the fire danger weeks ago, as the summer heated up after a winter of below-average snowfall.
There is a firework ban in effect inside the Park City limits. Open flames like campfires are also prohibited under the ban. There were sporadic reports, though, of violations even before the revelry of the Fourth of July. On Tuesday, state officials enacted a countywide ban.
The Park City Fire District, the Park City Police Department and City Hall’s emergency manager readied plans for the holiday on Wednesday but also hope the crowds obey the rules against fireworks and open flames. Popular Fourth of July options like sparklers and pyrotechnic snakes are forbidden by the ban on open flames.
“You can go to the professional fireworks show,” said Mike McComb, the emergency manager at City Hall. “And ooh and aah and celebrate our nation’s independence.”
McComb described that the “state’s on fire,” pointing to the blaze at Strawberry Reservoir, and said the Park City area is susceptible.
“The conditions are ripe for a wildfire,” he said.
City Hall enacted the ban in the weeks before the Fourth of July. Officials cited the dry conditions and the warming temperatures as the ban was enacted. The most important test, though, is the Fourth of July, a holiday that typically draws large crowds to Park City to celebrate. There are regularly fireworks complaints on Independence Day regardless of whether a ban is in place that year.
The Police Department has received a series of reports of fireworks or open flames starting in the middle of June. The reports continued in the last week. An open fire was reported in the overnight hours of June 29 somewhere along Park Avenue before the people agreed to extinguish the flames. Fireworks were reported at a little after 4 p.m. on Doc Holliday Drive on June 28 as well as in the vicinity of City Park at 4:15 p.m. on June 26. Other reports were filed earlier in June.
The Fire District is on high alert for the holiday, Chief Paul Hewitt said on Tuesday. Firefighters plan to douse the grassy area where the Park City Mountain Resort fireworks display is planned on the Fourth of July prior to the start. Hewitt said four professional displays were scheduled within the fire district boundaries. One was planned on Tuesday at Canyons Village. The traditional public display at Park City Mountain Resort is also slated. Hewitt said two private displays in developments are permitted as well.
“They’re about as safe as they can get,” Hewitt said about the professional displays, urging people to attend the one at PCMR on Independence Day.
The fire chief, like the emergency manager at City Hall, said there is a wildfire danger in the Park City area. He also said there is concern about Pioneer Day on July 24, another holiday celebrated with fireworks.
“Whether legal or not, fireworks are dangerous,” he said, noting the possibility of injuries in addition to possibility of starting a fire.
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The Jordanelle Reservoir is at about 67% of its capacity, not the lowest its been but a level that officials say is concerning.