SALT LAKE CITY — Every fire chief in the Salt Lake Valley issued an urgent plea to Utahns, asking that we all avoid using personal fireworks this year so that everyone can enjoy a safe and fun holiday.
In 2020, Salt Lake Valley agencies responded to more than 600 fireworks-related fires, and they fear this year could be much worse.
That’s why they asked all Utahns Friday to skip a year, regardless if they live in a restricted area or not.
It doesn’t matter where you live — up in the foothills, or down west of the interstate.
“It is dry. It is drier than I have ever seen it,” said Fire Chief Bruce Cline with Sandy City Fire Department.
Cline said the danger is real, adding that the boundaries on a map aren’t going to make you, or the homes around you, safe.
“And you can see, I guess we call it Junegrass, how dry it is, and those are the grasses that are so easy to catch on fire,” he said.
Fuels in a restricted area that are not all that different across the street where fireworks are allowed.
“So, 200 feet away from here, you can light a firework,” said Cline.
That’s why Cline reached out to fire chiefs from across the Salt Lake Valley for help.
“Temperatures are expected to be extremely high over the next few weeks, if not the rest of the summer, so the conditions are very risky for fire,” said Fire Chief Karl Lieb with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.?
Ten fire chiefs in all — each making the same plea to everyone.
“Lawns, brush and trees are ripe for burning this time of year,” said Fire Chief John Evans with the West Valley City Fire Department.?
“Skip a year. Enjoy the professional shows,” said Cline.
If that seems like an extreme risk for Utah, it’s because the conditions are just as unusual.?
“We’re comparing our time now to what we usually see in the end of August and September,” said Cline. “That’s the conditions that we are now.”
“They’re drying out more every day,” said Cline, referring to our lawns and tree leaves.
Cline said with another week of heat before the 4th of July, Thursday’s rainfall was not nearly enough to do anything.
“Everything’s going to dry right back out, and it’s just extremely dangerous to do fireworks,” he said.
Firefighters will often give warnings for illegal lighting of fireworks, but not this time. The ten valley chiefs said they will issue citations.
If you start a fire, you could also be fined up to $1,000, and be held responsible for the damages, along with the costs of fighting it.