‘It’s just primed to burn right now’: Lehi fire chief urges caution with fireworks during windy conditions
LEHI, Utah – After surveying the hillside on Traverse Mountain directly above a row of homes, Lehi’s fire chief is worried.
“This burnt two years ago and it’s ready to burn again,” Chief Jeremy Craft said.
Craft said the rain this spring resulted in taller grass that has now dried out.
“The fuels are super dry,” Craft said. “It’s just primed to burn right now.”
Craft and homeowners remember the tense June night two years ago when the fireworks-caused Traverse Fire forced evacuations.
“We had fire coming down the hill and it was really fast,” said Kelly Hatcher, whose house borders Traverse Mountain.
Hatcher recalls knocks at his door and waking up to find flames behind his house.
“You could see embers just going everywhere and they were landing on the roof,” he said.
After helping his family evacuate, Hatcher stayed behind to use irrigation water to protect his house.
“I was just hosing down the whole fence line,” he said.
Hatcher and the rest of the community escaped without any homes lost after the wind shifted at the last minute.
Two years later, those who lived through the fire are reminding people that fireworks are prohibited on Traverse Mountain and anywhere north of Timpanogos Highway.
“People shouldn’t take it lightly,” Hatcher said. “It’s very serious.”
Even in areas of Lehi where fireworks are allowed, Craft said the wind may make it too dangerous to safely light them off—especially aerial fireworks.
“What I would ask people is if the winds are still blowing this evening, just wait,” Craft said. “Please don’t do them tonight. We don’t want to catch a neighbor’s house on fire. We don’t want to catch a field on fire. We don’t want to catch Traverse on fire again.”
Lehi is allowing fireworks at three city parks on July 4th until midnight: Olympic Park, Veterans Ballpark and Sports Park. Craft said that firefighters will be on hand to supervise and may ask residents to hold off if the winds are too strong.
“Not only is the wind going to drive your fireworks where you can’t control it but if a fire does start, the wind-driven fires are much more difficult to contain,” Craft said.
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