Park City, fearing a terrible blaze, enacts ban on fireworks
June 27, 2014
People in Park City are allowed to celebrate the 4th of July with sparklers and snake-style fireworks.
And that’s it for personal use.
The Park City Council on Thursday approved a ban on fireworks through Oct. 31, agreeing that the fire danger is too great to allow them. City Hall staffers had recommended the ban be put in place. It covers Independence Day and Pioneer Day, another holiday celebrated with fireworks. The text of the ban mentions bottle rockets, cherry bombs, roman candles and other styles of popular fireworks.
It had been anticipated before this week that the City Council would likely enact a ban. Emergency officials say there is a danger of fires in Park City even after the recent June snowfall and cool, wet weather that followed.
Hugh Daniels, City Hall’s emergency manager, said in an interview it is a normal wildfire year in the area. There are typically 60 or so wildfires in Summit County in a normal year, though, Daniels said.
"A normal year doesn’t mean we don’t have wildfires," Daniels said.
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He listed the present conditions that could lead to blazes, including low snow pack from the winter, an early snowmelt, low June humidity and warm temperatures. He said vegetation has started to dry out, providing fuel for a wildfire. Fireworks, Daniels said, are an added danger to the wildfire season.
"Unfortunately, people are not careful with fireworks," Daniels said.
The public fireworks display at Park City Mountain Resort, scheduled on Independence Day, is still planned. Daniels said a decision to cancel the display based on conditions would not be made until a few days beforehand.
The City Council on Thursday also enacted a ban on open fires until Oct. 31 and adopted a process to recover the costs of fighting a fire and repairing the damage if someone starts one with banned fireworks, an open fire or another ignition source.
Similar measures were taken in 2013, 2012 and 2007 as officials in those years had the same sorts of concerns.
"In the Park City area, intensifying drought; higher than normal predicted temperatures in July and August (as predicted by the National Interagency Fire Center); extremely low moisture in both live and dead fuels and fire season timing leads all current forecasts to an increasing fire risk," a report by City Hall staffers submitted to the City Council prior to the enactment of the ban said.
Paul Hewitt, the chief of the Park City Fire District, said in an interview he was consulted as the City Hall ban was crafted. He rated the fire danger this year a ‘5’ on a 1-to-10 scale.
"We’re not bone dry . . . but conditions change quickly," Hewitt said.
Hewitt said bottle rockets and sky rockets are particularly dangerous since they can land on sloped terrain, suggesting someone call 911 if they suspect a wildfire has started.
The fire chief said the state forester will be asked to enact a fireworks ban in the unincorporated areas on the West Side of Summit County.
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