Firefighters offer warning after fireworks spark blaze in Layton

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jul 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-23 23:26:39-04

LAYTON, Utah -- A Layton family's house nearly burned down while they were asleep Friday night after the Layton City Fire Department said neighbors lit off illegal fireworks.

The fire department now has a warning ahead of the Pioneer Day celebrations.

Video shows massive flames eating through a tall tree in a Layton front yard. It only took moments to ignite.

"It went up really fast," said neighbor Keith Hamblin, who witnessed the fire. "Once it hit that pine tree, it was like it had gasoline on it. Those pine needles just went."

Hamblin lives two houses down and said neighbors from another home on the other side of the street were lighting off fireworks all night.

The family who lives in the home where the fire started had just gone to bed.

"Somebody came banging on the door to get them out of bed because their stuff was on fire," Hamblin recounted.

He said he immediately jumped in to help. Videos filmed by Hamblin show the homeowner using his garden hose to fight the fire, which started blowing toward the home.

"There was hot embers blowing over the top of the house, all over in the back," he explained.

The Layton City Fire Department showed up and squashed the blaze before it got worse.

The next day, the tree sits half-blackened, the bushes are charred to a crisp, burnt needles are scattered all over the roof, ashes coat the ground and vehicles in the driveway, and the siding on the house is warped and melted as scraps of fireworks sit as evidence in the driveway.

The Layton City Fire Department said they've been seeing too many calls like this one from fireworks.

"Fire behavior is high right now," said Doug Bitton, the Layton City Fire Department Public Information Officer. "Things are at their highest and extreme levels."

He said with hot temperatures and low humidity, he suggests staying away from lighting off fireworks and leaving it to the professionals.

"If we can abstain from fireworks and watch the professional shows in one of the preplanned areas, that's one of our best things we'd want to advocate right now," he said.

Hamblin's glad his neighbors are okay, but he knows they now have to deal with cleanup from a moment of carelessness.

Bitton said cases where fireworks damage property can lead to criminal charges.

Click here for details about fireworks restrictions in Utah by area, and click here for general safety and fire prevention tips.