Utah's Intense Fire Season Sparks Concern About Fireworks

Jun 26, 2017

Credit kvcrnews.org

While both patriots and pyrotechnicians rejoice for the upcoming Fourth of July and Pioneer Day holidays, state authorities are wary of the dangers posed by the use of fireworks during a summer with remarkable fire danger.

"I don't know whether we’ll have an all-out ban," said Gov. Gary Herbert at a recent press conference. "I have no plans for an all-out ban right now, but there may a restriction as far as where you can have fireworks."

While a statewide fireworks ban "remains to be seen," Gov. Herbert encouraged local and state government to collaborate on safety.

"Generally that comes [from] our Department of Natural Resources that has statewide authority on fire and what can happen, particularly on our public lands," he said. "We will have, probably, the work done with the local communities. So it will be, probably, a collaborative effort between the state and our Department of Natural Resources and our local community government as far as what restrictions we put in place."

In Utah, there are currently seven active large wildland fires, including the largest in the nation, the Brian Head fire, now spanning 43,000 acres. As of last week, many counties have put forth fire restrictions.

Jason Curry with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands claimed that abnormal conditions have made this year near-explosive.

“We've definitely experienced more fire activity this year than the past few," he said "The biggest factor is the abundance of grass we've gotten out of our wet spring and the ignitions that we've had -- and the weather we've had. It’s been explosive in terms of fire activity. We've responded accordingly with more restrictions this year than we've had in the past few years."

Fire danger can vary throughout the state. Curry warned that, even if you’re not launching fireworks, to exercise caution.

"There are a lot of different ways to start a fire while you’re out camping, recreating, or even working, you can ignite dry grass," said Curry. "It only takes 451 degrees to ignite this tinder-dry wheat grass and native grass that’s out there. Of the wildfire we've seen so far this month, I’d say more than half of them have been preventable."