If you attended any of the Fourth of July festivities across Tooele County last week, it was hard not to feel proud of our county and its citizens.
From Tooele City and Grantsville to Vernon, communities took one or several days to acknowledge and celebrate our nation’s 242nd birthday. There were scholarship pageants, parades, rodeos, park activities, concerts, a veterans memorial dedication — and evening fireworks.
A sincere thank you to all who helped create and put on Fourth of July events last week, and to all who attended and made those events vibrant and meaningful. Independence Day was honored here with genuine patriotism that reminds all of us how fortunate we are to live in these United States.
But another round of thanks needs to be offered, too.
As reported in today’s front-page story, “New fire restrictions in place for county,” Tooele County Fire Warden Daniel Walton said there were less fire-related calls than expected on the Fourth of July — despite dry conditions and high heat.
On that day, there were five fires caused by fireworks in Tooele City, an ATV fire at Five Mile Pass, and an illegal debris burn in Terra that briefly got out of control.
Evidently, local fire officials expected a much busier day. In mid-June, citizens were strongly urged to be “extra careful, extra cautious” while using fireworks, or while venturing in the county’s mountains, canyons and desert outback.
According to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Tooele County is primed for lots of wildfires this summer due to an excess of cured grasses and heavy fuels, such as bushes and trees.
Does the low number of fires on the Fourth of July suggest citizens listened and were “extra careful, extra cautious?” Based on results they were — and still are.
But that doesn’t mean everyone can relax. As reported in today’s same front-page story, fire restrictions have been added to all unincorporated private land within Tooele County on July 6. This means fireworks are prohibited in Stansbury Park, Lake Point and other unincorporated areas during Pioneer Day. Also prohibited are open fires, smoking near dry vegetation, using recreational vehicles or other motorized devices without a spark arrestor, and other spark-causing activities.
The call for extra fire restrictions is a good one. Also reported on today’s front page, Tooele County’s drought situation continues to ebb toward critical. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, major portions of Tooele and Rush valleys have been rated at D2 – Severe Drought, while the rest of the county to the west is rated at D1- Moderate Drought.
According to the National Weather Service, the 90-day forecast for Tooele County is calling for above normal temperatures — but also above normal precipitation. The latter is strongly welcomed. Yet even if good rains arrive, citizens and visitors are urged to stay vigilant about fire safety. Doing so is something more we can all be proud of after Independence Day.