Record editorial: Celebrating with fireworks? Don’t let Independence Day end in disaster.
With concerns about the coronavirus prompting officials to snuff out Park City’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show, Parkites won’t be looking skyward Saturday.
But that doesn’t mean pyrotechnics won’t be part of Independence Day in Park City. It seems likely that, given the show’s cancellation and the dearth of other events that typically mark the holiday, more Parkites this year will turn to personal fireworks to celebrate.
As long as they keep their gatherings small and socially distant, it’s a way for residents to enjoy at least one Fourth of July tradition without risking exposure to COVID-19.
But coronavirus precautions aren’t the only safety measures Parkites need to take into account. The arrival of summer means wildfire season is here, and all it takes is one errant spark, one careless lapse, for a festive fireworks display to turn into disaster.
Think the odds of that happening are remote, or that the early-week rainstorms washed away the risk?
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Let the situation in Utah County, where a pair of large human-caused fires over the weekend threatened more than 1,000 homes, serve as a sobering reminder of the danger we’re facing. While the specific cause of one of the fires remained under investigation Tuesday afternoon, officials said the other was started by a firework.
With no restrictions on fireworks planned in Park City or unincorporated Summit County for the Fourth of July, residents who plan to light them off shoulder the responsibility of ensuring a similar scenario doesn’t play out here, where there are longstanding fears about the potential of a disastrous wildfire sweeping through densely wooded neighborhoods like Summit Park or Old Town. Even a blaze lit in a more rural area of the county would tax firefighting resources and have the potential to spread rapidly.
There’s no doubt fireworks are a treasured part of Fourth of July. And this year, they’ll be one of the few traditions residents will be able to enjoy. But don’t do so carelessly, lest a wildfire be at the end of the fuse.
Personal fireworks are allowed in Utah from Thursday through Sunday and again from July 22-25 in celebration of Pioneer Day. For tips about firework safety, visit firemarshal.utah.gov/department-services/fireworks/.
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