Fire safety touted in Summit County ahead of Independence Day weekend
Fireworks aren’t permitted in Park City limits but are allowed in some areas of the county
Fireworks aren’t permitted in the Park City limits this year, but with no such ban in Summit County, officials are urging residents to stay vigilant this holiday weekend.
The Park City Council approved a fireworks prohibition on Thursday. Park City Emergency Manager Mike McComb said the ban on ignition sources within the city is based on summer conditions that bring wildfire and other safety concerns. He estimates a ban has been enforced for several years because of the historic drought.
Although the harsh conditions have once again prevented a city-sponsored fireworks display this summer, the prohibition hasn’t been enacted in the rest of Summit County – other than on state and federal land, according to Bryce Boyer, the county’s fire warden.
Around 99% of the state is in a severe or extreme drought, and state and local leaders are encouraging caution as Utahns plan to celebrate. The Governor’s Office said on Thursday fire danger is extremely high statewide.
Seven criteria must be considered before burn restrictions are enforced and the county only meets one based on the ongoing drought, according to Boyer. He said fire danger has increased as vegetation dries out, but recent rain has helped keep fuel sources moist. However, other factors like wind and low humidity can increase the chance of a fire starting.
There have been at least four wildfires in Summit County this year, all of which were human-caused, according to Boyer. He said people lighting fireworks need to consider their environment because gusts of wind can carry a spark or blow the rockets off course, which could start a fire if it lands in an area with dry grass or trees.
Fireworks should be lit on a bare, flat space with no flammable materials in the area. Boyer said it’s important to secure them before ignition and to keep a bucket of water close by. After the firework has gone off, it should be doused or submerged to ensure it is fully extinguished. The object should also be completely cold before it’s disposed of to prevent fires from starting. Similar practices should be followed for campfires, Boyer said.
He also warned that some neighbors may report fireworks-related complaints and an individual can be held liable for any suppression or other costs associated with firefighting if a blaze occurs. Boyer said he’s unaware of any issues that arose last summer, but he knows it has happened in the past.
Utah allows class C fireworks, which doesn’t include most aerial types, to be sold and discharged between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. from July 2 to July 5 and July 22 to July 25 as well as other dates closer to New Year’s Eve. The hours are extended to midnight on July 5 and July 25.
“Last year, people seemed to behave themselves,” he said.
Heading into the holiday weekend, Boyer and McComb advised visitors and Parkites to stay safe, hydrated and prepared for any adventure they’re pursuing.
While the governor touted state initiatives, members of the public questioned what Cox is doing to help with issues such as the labor shortage and affordable housing, open space, water and education.
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