‘We need to be as vigilant as ever’: Utah county fire chiefs urge caution with fireworks

Jul 3, 2023, 7:02 PM

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Fire officials in northern Utah County are urging residents not to let their guard down with fireworks just because of the wet spring.

“Last week, the grass here was green, and now, a week later, we see that the grass is now becoming yellow and more dry,” said Jeff Smith, the battalion chief with the Lehi Fire Department.

Smith said the drying out of the vegetation happened rapidly and that hillsides and urban areas could ignite with a simple spark from fireworks. The city doesn’t want a repeat of the fireworks-caused fire on Traverse Mountain in June 2020 that required evacuations.

“Know your restrictions and definitely stay away from hillsides or any dry grass,” Smith said.

Lehi City’s map of 2023 fireworks restrictions has them prohibited on Traverse Mountain and in all areas north of Timpanogos Highway. In addition, fireworks are also banned along the Dry Creek corridor.

“Things are drying out, so from here moving forward, it’s our typical, desert type of climate where things are going to become dry fast, and the potential of fire danger goes up daily,” Smith said.

The map of Lehi’s firework restrictions for Fourth of July. (Lehi City)

Lehi has also indicated a few areas on the map with red lines where fireworks are allowed but not recommended.

Residents can light off fireworks at Olympic Park and Sports Park on July 4th from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Fireworks are prohibited at other city parks. It’s the same warning over in Saratoga Springs, which also had a fire three years ago that forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents.

“Two weeks ago, the majority of this grass was green,” said Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Jess Campbell. “And, of course, this is the very fast fuel that causes such rapid flame spread.”

Campbell said the city has experienced an influx of new residents, resulting in more people that could potentially light off fireworks this year.

“We need to be as vigilant as ever,” he said.

Because of extreme fire conditions, Campbell said his department has placed all fireworks restrictions allowed under the law. Saratoga Springs has released a map and list of streets where aerial fireworks are banned.

“Due to the unprecedented snowpack that we had, I think there’s a tendency for people to kind of let their guard down,” Campbell said. “Please celebrate, but please be safe.”

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‘We need to be as vigilant as ever’: Utah county fire chiefs urge caution with fireworks