Residents ignore ban, light campfires
The ordinance banning fireworks and open fires in almost all of Summit County has only been in effect one week, but deputies have already been busy issuing citations and responding to calls about residents having bonfires and illegal fireworks.
According to Summit County Detective Sergeant Ron Bridge, multiple citations were issued over the weekend to people who had illegal open burns and one arrest was made.
"None of them turned into wildfires because we were able to respond in time," he said. "Given the extreme danger right now, we are taking these very seriously."
One suspect was issued a citation for having a fire in Soapstone Basin in the Uintas that was observed from the road Saturday night. According to the Sheriff’s Office, dry vegetation was located directly next to the fire pit, prompting the citation.
In another incident on Saturday, fishermen near Rockport Reservoir were issued a citation after they started an open fire on the beach to make tea. The penalty associated with a citation is determined by the Summit County Justice Court.
Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said he responded to about six reports of illegal open burns in the past week and four false alarm calls due to the amount of smoke in the air.
"Deputies have been out issuing citations when we receive reports of someone having an open burn," Boyer said. "There have been a lot near Echo Reservoir, especially between North and South Beach. Some people didn’t know about the ban, others thoughts they could get away with it and that their fire would be small enough that no one would notice."
On Tuesday morning, Boyer said his crews responded to an open burn at the Mountain Valley Stone rock quarry in Brown’s Canyon. Boyer said employees had lit a controlled burn in a pit with flames up to 40 feet high. Crews quickly responded to the burn and extinguished it.
"They claimed they didn’t know about the ordinance," Boyer said. "But we issued them a citation for breaking the ordinance right away. These kinds of burns are not OK this year."
South Summit Fire Chief Kent Leavitt said his volunteer fire department responded to very few incidents of open burns and was instead kept busy with false fire reports due to the smoke in the air.
"People smell smoke in the air and immediately call, which takes a big toll on a volunteer fire department," he said. "I think people are being extra cautious this year."
South Summit Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Giauque said that his department also responded to multiple false alarms due to the smoke in the air and that so far, residents have been very vigilant and careful regarding open flames.
"We made sure all campfires were put out in popular camping areas and, luckily, we haven’t had any reports of fireworks yet," Giauque said. "We are ready to respond to anything this week and I think residents know what is at stake so they are quick to call and report an open burn or fireworks. We have even received calls about campfires that were left unattended."
Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said that his department has not issued any citations to residents who violated the fire ordinance but they did respond to one report of a resident setting off fireworks.
"We got a call from someone in Park Meadows reporting something that sounded like shots being fired, which we think were fireworks being set off," he said. "We were unable to locate the resident that was setting off fireworks, but are ready to respond to more reports like that during the Fourth of July."
Store-bought fireworks and open fires are illegal in all areas of the county expect Oakley. Sparklers and snake fireworks are allowed in unincorporated Summit County, Park City and Kamas. Residents who violate the fire ordinance can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, which is punishable with up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
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