Did fireworks start fires on the July 4th weekend in Utah?

There were still a few troublemakers around, but most of the Utahners followed calls from local guides and fire officials to exercise extreme caution over the weekend of July 4th.

No major fires broke out in Utah, one of the states choked to death by the “mega-drought” of the West. Local authorities reported some fireworks here and there, but they were put out early before they could grow. No houses were on fire. No lives were lost.

However, the heads of state and government hope that the generally good behavior of the Utahns will continue until Pioneer Day on July 24th – when fireworks from July 22nd to 25th will be legal again.

“We are so grateful that many Utahners have forego personal fireworks this weekend,” said Governor Spencer Cox’s spokeswoman Jennifer Napier-Pearce in a statement released Tuesday. “We hope this continues through July 24th.”

It was “great” that Utah did not see any “significant fires due to fireworks,” said Kait Webb, spokeswoman and prevention coordinator for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands on Tuesday. In fact, the state saw no major fires at all over the weekend – with or without fireworks.

“So people were definitely practicing fire and being responsible,” said Webb. “We hope this is the trend that will continue through Pioneer Day on July 24th. We don’t want to let our vigilance down yet, but at the weekend we definitely saw positive actions by the public who are a little more responsible with fireworks and who have decided to practice a feeling of fire. ”

Ryan Love, spokesman for the Unified Fire Authority, a fire department that serves about 430,000 people in Salt Lake County – including east-facing suburbs in the Wasatch foothills such as Cottonwood Heights, Holladay and Millcreek – said the Utahners did well for their sense of fire passed this year’s July 4th weekend.

“You get an A +,” said Love on Tuesday. “The fire brigades are very grateful for the behavior of our residents.”

The grade is A + even though the Unified Fire Authority responded to about 200 calls on the agency’s non-emergency hotline from residents reporting fireworks in restricted areas, Love said.

Unified also responded to 12 small fire calls, including two grass fires. The rest were dumpster fires, where fireworks couldn’t properly soak their fireworks in water overnight before throwing them away, Love said.

“Still A +,” he said, “because we expected far worse.”

Love said fire officials “realize that residents will do what they are used to,” and just because fireworks are banned in certain areas, “doesn’t mean we get full compliance.”

But compared to July last year, the annoying fireworks calls from Unified have already decreased a lot, Love said. He said last year’s illegal fireworks calls (including the July 4th weekends and Pioneer Day) totaled 600. At 200, that number is already much lower.

“If you compare the numbers, Salt Lake Counties did a really good job,” he said.

Agencies were still running their reports on Tuesday, so Webb did not have a full list of fires on state and unincorporated land, but Webb said there were some incidents reported where “people were irresponsibly using fireworks or things got out of hand and there were fires ”. caused by them, but they got small and caught very quickly. ”

Some of these occurred in Uintah County, she said, but they were cleared before they exceeded a tenth of an acre and didn’t damage any buildings.

In Utah’s capital, where fireworks were banned across the city, firefighters were busy – but so was Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Tony Stowe had no major fires to report and none caused by fireworks.

Stowe said Saturday turned out to be the busiest day, with a “significant” increase in calls compared to last year. Frustrated local residents who saw or heard their neighbors illegally set off fireworks were not afraid to report the violations.

“In general,” said Stowe, “the fireworks ban seems helpful.”

“That’s thousands of dollars – maybe millions of dollars – in property damage that we haven’t experienced,” said Stowe. “We didn’t burn any mountains. That is always a good sign. ”

The Salt Lake City Fire Department responded to 31 fireworks complaints, 24 of which were warned, according to Stowe. Salt Lake firefighters also responded to three building fires that were not caused by fireworks, including a detached garage that was likely an accident, an accidental fire in a commercial building, and an intentional fire in an abandoned commercial building. They also responded to a grass fire in which suspects who burned insulation from copper wire set a field on fire.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a statement urging residents to continue to be cautious.

“Fireworks continue to pose a major threat to our city as we suffer from extreme drought conditions,” said the mayor. “We are grateful that there were no major fires last weekend and hope that people will continue to adhere to the fireworks restrictions that our city’s fire marshal has issued for our protection.”

Some Salt Lake City residents have “rolled back” the fireworks ban, “which is what you’d expect,” said Stowe.

“There will always be (those who break the ban),” Stowe said. “Every time something is taken away that we had in the past, it definitely raises some eyebrows. But overall we had support from (residents) who were worried about their property, people who were worried about the wildland interface … or any of those grassy areas on the west side. ”

Residents of the East Side of Salt Lake City – especially those who live in the foothills of Capitol Hill – are particularly concerned about the danger fireworks pose to their neighborhoods, Stowe said. “If someone lit a sparkler, they would get a lot of resistance from their neighbors.”

It wasn’t clear how many Utahners were charged with illegally setting off fireworks. The local police department was still sorting their reports and did not have that information immediately available on Tuesday.

However, Stowe said Salt Lake police were not in the process of enforcing the city’s fireworks ban. When quoted, he warns that the penalty isn’t just a fine of up to $ 1,000 or up to a year in prison – but if the fireworks result in a fire department response and damage, that person must be held liable is made to pay for the damage.

“The most important part is that for all the hours of fighting the fire, all of the equipment … the water, the total cost of the fire, you can land on your lap,” he said.

Fire officials urged Utahns to stay diligent – and not complain about the upcoming Pioneer Day celebrations.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Webb.

Salt Lake County residents can use an interactive map to see where fireworks are and are not banned this year. But while the map shows that fireworks will one day be legal, it can be updated later to reflect new restrictions when they are announced. Check back in before you light up a personal fireworks display for Pioneer Day.

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