NewsLocal News


Firefighters ready for dry Pioneer Day; one fireworks blaze already reported

Posted at 9:33 PM, Jul 24, 2019

HERRIMAN, Utah -- Fire departments across the state are warning of dry conditions, as people celebrating Pioneer Day light off fireworks.

The Pleasant Grove Fire Department said fireworks started a brush fire that chewed through a field near an apartment complex Tuesday night.

Melissa Smith and Brad Conidaris live across the street from where the fire started, in a second-floor apartment. The view from their deck is currently a charred, burnt-up field.

Home surveillance shows what the view from their deck was on Tuesday night -- smoke and flames that reached two-stories tall.

"We heard a firework go off, and Brad turned to me and was like, 'Oh that sounded really close, like it was right in front of our building,'" Melissa said.

They immediately looked out the window and took cell phone video of the fire. They said it spread fast.

"I was like, 'Oh the field is on fire!'" Melissa said. "He immediately is like, 'We have to go move our cars!'"

Their cars were parked right next to the field. After moving the cars to a safe spot, they watched firefighters arrive and go to work.

In video Melissa filmed, it is apparent the flames spread across the entire field.

Unified Fire Authority said they didn't respond to any firework-related fires on Tuesday, but they beefed up staff and brought in extra trucks to certain stations just in case.

UFA said calls across the valley have gone up 1,000% on Pioneer Day.

"We have about 18 or so extra firefighters tonight, just in case something happens," Battalion Chief Riley Pilgrim said.

Firefighters at the UFA station in Herriman parked wildland trucks that specialize in putting out brush fires.

They also called in wildfire-trained crews.

"Our concern is what's happened over the last few days with high winds and high temperatures, low humidities," Battalion Chief Pilgrim said. "That's really going to lead up to stuff that happens tonight."

He said one wrong gust of wind or a firework tipping over can turn a fun event into a tragic one.

In addition to fireworks fires, Pilgrim said they see an increase in calls for burns and firework-related injuries.

Brad and Melissa said the front of their neighbor's car melted in Tuesday night's fire.

It's the second time that field has caught fire from fireworks, they said. They said a fire started on Pioneer Day last year.

"It's like [the movie] Groundhog Day, not Pioneer Day," Brad said.

Déjà vu, they hope they won't be reliving again.