State and federal public land agencies are making one last plea before the Fourth of July weekend, encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors — with caution.
Their plea is significant to Tooele County, where around 80% of the land mass is owned by some kind of public agency.
Currently firefighters are responding to an all-time high number of preventable, human caused fires, according to Utah Interagency Fire.
Utah Interagency Fire includes the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“Fireworks and abandoned campfires are causing a lot of problems for firefighters in Utah right now,” said Brett Ostler, state fire management officer. “A significant increase in public outdoor recreation and careless actions are contributing to the number of ignitions. These preventable fires significantly increase the public safety risk,”
Fire managers expect dangerous wildfire conditions in Utah to continue, especially for the short-term in the lower elevations where many people live, work and recreate, according to Ostler.
“Fire restrictions are already in place in many areas of Utah,” he said. “Until or if monsoonal moisture reduces fire danger, expect fire restrictions to be elevated in critical areas.”
As the state heads into fireworks season with the Fourth of July and PIoneer Day holidays, fire fighters are very concerned.
Utah’s fireworks laws, in addition to state and federal agencies emphasize that it is illegal to possess or ignite fireworks on state or federally administered lands. If convicted, fines can reach up to $100,000 and the responsible party(s) will be billed for all fire suppression costs, which frequently exceeds $50,000 for larger wildfires, according to Ostler.
“Although the Traverse, Avenue R, Turn Key and Catfish fires in northern Utah were ignited by fireworks, please be careful where you build campfires,” Ostler said. “Completely extinguish campfires with water and be aware of where you park your vehicle. A hot exhaust system or embers from a campfire can result in a very dangerous situation for firefighters and the public.”
Where they are allowed, state code limits fireworks use to July 2 – 5, July 22 – 25, and Dec. 31 – Jan. 1.
The use of fireworks is discouraged near vegetation and is not advised on windy days, according to Utah Interagency Fire.
For information on fire and firework restrictions visit www.utahfireinfo.gov/.