Park City, concerned about wildfire danger, bans fireworks
July 22, 2016
People who want to celebrate Pioneer Day with fireworks cannot do so inside the Park City limits.
But they can in the Snyderville Basin and other unincorporated areas of Summit County.
It was not clear until Thursday what sort of restrictions would be put in place in Park City and surrounding Summit County as emergency officials monitored the weather conditions and the moisture content of the vegetation in the area.
There was not the same sort of prohibition in Park City for the 4th of July, but a spell of hot, dry weather led City Hall officials to reconsider for Pioneer Day and the rest of the summer.
Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council addressed the issue on Thursday evening, as what is expected to be a busy three-day weekend approached. The state marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on Sunday and many people will enjoy Monday off from work as well. Pioneer Day is typically celebrated with fireworks.
The City Council on Thursday voted to delegate the authority to make decisions regarding fireworks restrictions and whether open flames are allowed to the municipal government's fire code official. The authority had generally been held by the City Council itself.
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The fire code official, Chad Root, on Friday enacted a ban on fireworks and open flames. He based the decision on hazardous wildfire conditions in Park City.
The City Council also enacted an ordinance that allows a government entity to recover the costs of firefighting in the case of a fire started by negligence.
Hugh Daniels, the emergency program manager for City Hall and one of the staffers heavily involved in decisions regarding fireworks, said in an interview the conditions became hazardous in the weeks since the 4th of July. He said temperatures have been hot, there has been wind and the humidity is low. There is lots of dry grass in Park City, he noted.
"That creates a higher risk of fire, of wildfire. It makes things easier to burn," Daniels said, describing the deteriorating conditions between Independence Day and the Pioneer Day weekend.
Many types of fireworks are prohibited at all times, including firecrackers, cherry bombs, Roman candles and bottle rockets. The prohibition enacted by City Hall on Thursday, which runs until Oct. 1, involves other sorts of fireworks, including pyrotechnic snakes, pinwheels and cones. Daniels said Park City officials received complaints about fireworks in the nights before the ban was enacted on Thursday.
Park City and Summit County officials have long been concerned about the prospects of a devastating wildfire in a community where there are residences and mountain resort infrastructure across the higher elevations. Park City has enacted a similar ban five times over the past nine years, according to a City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the City Council meeting on Thursday.
In the unincorporated area of Summit County, including the Snyderville Basin, meanwhile, a prohibition was not instituted. Someone cannot use fireworks outlawed in Utah, though, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, M-80s and cherry bombs, according to a Summit County flier.
City Hall anticipates a busy weekend in Park City. The Triple Crown World Series baseball tournament ends on Saturday and concerts are scheduled at Deer Valley Resort on Saturday and Sunday. The Park Silly Sunday Market is scheduled along Main Street on Sunday. A barbecue marking Pioneer Day is scheduled on Monday from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the south end of City Park.