Park City bans fireworks, open flames as wildfire concerns mount
The persistent hot, dry weather leads City Hall to enact the measures
City Hall enacted a ban on fireworks, open flames and burning on Wednesday, a step that was anticipated as Park City continues to suffer through sweltering temperatures and a lengthy stretch of dry weather.
The municipal government outlined the ban in a communication to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council that was released on Monday evening. It had seemed highly likely in recent days that City Hall would implement the measures, but it was not clear until Monday when the actions would be taken.
Dave Thacker, who is the chief building official and the fire code official for the municipal government, crafted the declaration that was required for the ban. The City Hall communication to the elected officials, drafted by Thacker, notes the current conditions as it outlines the reasoning for the ban.
“Due to the below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures, along with the forecasted weather data, and fuel moisture content, fire danger is at a higher level than in previous years,” Thacker says.
The term “fuel moisture content” refers to the dryness of vegetation.
The ban will be in effect until it is rescinded. It is not clear when that could occur, but sometimes bans are kept in place for an extended period.
An exhibit attached to the communication describes the below-average snow totals during the most recent winter, in the range of between 50% and 70% of a typical winter. It says “very dry conditions have increased across Utah.” The forecasts point to temperatures that are above average and precipitation that is below average, the exhibit says.
The U.S. Forest Service “indicates the current fire danger is moderate, and due to forecasted conditions will move to high in the near future,” it says. “That coupled (with) forecasted above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation create fire ignition concerns,” it says.
The ban on fireworks was enacted less than three weeks before Independence Day. Much of the discussion about the Fourth of July in Park City in recent weeks centered on the celebration plans amid continued concerns about the novel coronavirus rather than the fire danger. The concerns about fires, though, increased substantially in the last week amid the hot, dry weather. Fires elsewhere brought smoky skies for several days to the Park City area, highlighting the threat in the community.
The National Weather Service on Tuesday forecasted an upcoming drop in the temperatures in Park City into the low 80s. There was no precipitation forecasted through at least Monday, though.
The ban is expected to cover Independence Day and Pioneer Day, a state holiday that is celebrated with fireworks, on July 24.
Park City leaders have long been worried about the possibility of a devastating wildfire in the community, a scenario that could endanger people, property and the tourism industry that drives the economy. Places inside the Park City limits like Old Town and Deer Valley are seen as especially vulnerable with so many structures set against forested lands or within close proximity to them.
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