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Legal fireworks to soar this weekend, raising fire concerns

Posted at 8:19 AM, Jul 21, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s about to get a lot noisier around Utah as once again, starting Saturday, it will be legal to set off fireworks in specific areas in the state, just in time for the Pioneer Day holiday.

But with the fun comes concern for local firefighters.

Community leaders and fire officials want to make sure everyone is aware of where it is legal to set off fireworks, and the potential dangers and penalties for those not following the rules.

The second of two legal periods in July comes weeks after a relatively calm Independence Day holiday.

“We are extremely pleased how the Fourth of July went, and the days before and after as far as the lack of response that we needed,” said Ryan Love with the Unified Fire Authority.

While crews weren't needed at the start of the month, the big concern is how temperatures have risen dramatically and so has the fire danger.

“Everything is already dry," exclaimed Love. "So what that means is that there’s a lot more potential than there was on the Fourth of July.”

The reason for all the watches, warnings and restrictions is to avoid devastating fires like the one sparked by fireworks on July 4, 2017 which nearly torched an entire Cottonwood Heights neighborhood, with one home sustaining burns to the outside.

That fire prompted city officials to set up fireworks restriction zones and an ordinance, punishable by a citation for those caught violating the rules.

“At first we had some community push back, the community I think, has actually really bought into this concept now,” said Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Weichers. “I think the community recognizes why this is an important issue and we’re just trying to keep residents safe from fire obviously.”

Just about everyone agrees that the fire danger is up since July 4. Officials also agree that just about everyone is doing the right thing in terms of when and where they’re legally setting off their fireworks.

But Love says there’s one, final step some people still need to take. 

“And make sure those fireworks are fully submerged, leave it overnight, 24 hours, and then toss them in the trash can," he said. "We don’t want to toss them in there when they’re warm, if they’re too hot to touch, they’re too hot to discard.”

Love says the few fire calls Unified Fire did respond to on the Fourth were trashcan or dumpster fires due to people discarding fireworks before they were completely doused.

Fireworks are allowed to be set off in Utah starting Friday through Tuesday only between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., with Monday hours extended to midnight.

CLICK HERE for an updated map on where people can and cannot set off fireworks.