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Pioneer Day Fireworks Pose High Wildfire Risk After Recent Heat Wave

Photo of fireworks. Bartels

A recent heat wave and an abundance of fire-prone plant material is prompting state officials to warn residents in Northern Utah about wildfire risk posed by this year’s Pioneer Day fireworks.

“Any combustion, any spark or any small fire can potentially turn into a large wildland fire with those conditions,” said Ryan Love of Unified Fire Authority, which covers Salt Lake County and parts of Utah County.

Over the weekend, temperatures reached 103 and led to a heat advisory. Love says this year’s abnormally wet spring has resulted in an abundance of fire-prone cheat grass and scrub oak, which has dried out in the recent heat.

In response, the Unified Fire Authority has created an interactive online map where users in the Salt Lake Valley can enter their address to see if they’re located in firework restricted areas.

“Most of the restricted areas are where the development area meets the wildland area,” Love said, referring to landscapes known as the “wildland-urban interface.”

Firework restrictions in the Salt Lake Valley are largely located in urban communities that border the Oquirrh Mountains to the west and Wasatch Mountains to the east.

Individuals throughout Utah can call their local fire department for information about restrictions.

In approved areas, Pioneer Day fireworks can legally be set off July 22 through July 25. 

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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