With the Fourth of July holiday around the corner and several wildfires burning around the state, Utah fire authorities are reminding the public of fire restrictions and safety measures.
Fireworks are already on sale across the state, but you can’t light them off just yet. State law says you have to wait until July 1st and depending on which city you live in, you might not be able to use them at all.
Specific restrictions on fireworks and open fires vary by county and often by city. But igniting fireworks on state or federally-owned land is prohibited.
Taylor Sandstrom with the Unified Fire Authority says when lighting fires and fireworks, the most important thing is to be prepared with an extinguisher.
“That can be a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water, a garden hose. Some way that, if the firework starts to get out of hand, you can quickly extinguish it,” he says.
Sandstrom says fires caused by sparks, campfires and fireworks are preventable. But it’s important to realize how easily a wildfire can ignite.
“We had a pretty wet spring,” the firefighter says. “We had quite a bit of rainfall and those fine grasses grew really fast. Now we’re seeing 107, 110-degree days in some areas and those fuels will dry out quickly. We call them one-hour fuels because it only takes one hour for them to dry out. And once they’re dry, they’ll catch a spark and burn quickly.”
The efforts of firefighters battling the Saddle Fire in southern Utah have been stalled several times because of civilian drones in the airspace. Sandstrom says besides being illegal, flying drones near wildfires is unsafe.
“It puts firefighters at risk, it puts aircraft operators at risk and it puts homes and civilians at risk as well,” he says.