Thanks to quick action by firefighters, and possibly some luck, a couple of potential fire disasters were stopped during the Fourth of July.
As reported on last Thursday’s front page, a fireworks-caused blaze destroyed three outbuildings and burned 5 acres in Lake Point on the holiday. It started late in the afternoon when a juvenile allegedly lit fireworks in a field next to North Sage Lane. The fire quickly spread, burned two sheds, a barn and threatened homes.
More than 30 firefighters from North Tooele Fire Department, Grantsville City Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management, and Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, jumped on the blaze with 8 brush trucks, 3 engines and a helicopter. Thankfully, they were able to stop the fire before homes — and possibly lives — were lost.
There were also five fireworks-related fires in Tooele City on the Fourth of July. The trend continued the next day with a fireworks-related fire near the intersection of state Route 112 and Sheep Lane. According to Tooele City Fire Chief Bucky Whitehouse, the city fire department has been responding to an average of three fireworks-related calls per day since July 1.
With excess vegetation from a wet spring turned tinder dry from weeks of high heat, and another round of fireworks coming on July 24, the question now is: How much longer will quick action by firefighters — and even luck — hold out?
The stage for a major wildfire has been set for weeks and we’ve all been duly warned to stay vigilant and to keep fireworks away. Before the Fourth of July, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, and the Bureau of Land Management, issued restrictions on lighting fireworks, using tracer ammunition and exploding targets.
Those restrictions apply to all unincorporated land in Tooele County, including Stansbury Park, Erda and Lake Point. Violators face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The youth who allegedly started the Lake Point wildfire now faces possible charges.
In Tooele City, fireworks are prohibited south of Main Street or Skyline Drive, and east of Droubay Road and west of 1000 West. Fireworks are also prohibited north of 1600 North on the east side of Main Street, and north of 2200 North on the west side.
In Grantsville, fireworks are restricted to the area of Willow Street west to West Street, and Clark Street south to Durfee Street.
According to Utah State Code, fireworks can only be lit in allowable areas between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 1-7, and from July 21-27. Hours are extended to midnight on July 4 and July 24.
A recent news release by the Utah Wildland Fire Prevention and Education Team, said 91 percent of wildfires so far in 2017 have been caused by human activity. That should serve as a clarion call for everyone to respect the restrictions and dry conditions, and for citizens to help local law enforcement catch violators.
Let’s all be mindful that the first four letters of the word “fireworks” are not to be taken lightly.