With low fire danger, personal fireworks likely a go in Summit County
After a prohibition in much of Summit County last year, personal fireworks look like they’ll be good to go in 2019.
A wet, cool spring has led to a reduced risk of fire, paving the way for fireworks celebrations all over the county.
The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said that might change as the area continues to dry out.
“We have no plans to (enact a ban), it doesn’t seem like it would be necessary at this point,” spokesperson Jason Curry said. “Things are fairly green but it’s a day-to-day decision, we look at it every day.”
Last year, the state prohibited open burning in unincorporated parts of the county — including personal fireworks — on July 3, a week or so after officials said they did not plan to do so. It was largely based on a July 2 fire outlook report that showed an increasing fire risk.
Many East Side communities follow the state’s lead on the issue, and representatives from Henefer, Coalville, Kamas, Francis and Oakley all said there are no bans in place.
Bryce Boyer is the Summit County fire warden and acts as the liaison between the county and the state on fire issues. The two offices come to a mutual decision on fireworks, he said, often heavily weighting his reports of conditions on the ground in the county.
He said he’s been in discussion with Park City emergency manager Mike McComb, who said they’re “not even looking at it” for Independence Day.
“We’ll reevaluate it after the Fourth depending on how responsible folks have been and how the weather goes until the 24th,” he said, adding that the decision is almost completely dependent on the weather.
While the overall outlook is good, Boyer said to stay away from cheatgrass or June grass. That’s the invasive species that turns purple in June and then brown, drying out and dying seemingly regardless of the ground’s moisture content.
“The native grasses are still pretty green,” Boyer said, but it’s “highly likely it’ll go up if it lands in (cheatgrass).”
Curry said injuries and accidental fires are things his office is “always concerned about.”
“Common sense is absolutely needed — we’re talking about an explosive here,” Curry said.
Fireworks are never allowed on National Forest lands or within the boundaries of state parks, Curry said, which include the Rockport, Echo and Jordanelle reservoirs. Anyone who uses or has fireworks on public lands is subject to fines of up to $5,000 and six months in jail, plus confiscation. And anyone found responsible for starting a wildfire can be held civilly and criminally liable.
Fireworks are permitted on four occasions in Utah: the Fourth of July, Pioneer Day, New Year’s Eve and the Chinese New Year. A 2018 state statute reduced the number of days that fireworks are allowed to the following: July 2-5, July 22-25, Dec. 31 and the Chinese New Year. Violations can result in a fine of up to $1,000.
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