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Even Utah's unofficial fireworks capital is under fireworks restrictions

Posted at 2:35 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-03 15:43:14-04

EVANSTON, Wyoming — After the receipt prints for a big fireworks purchase, the clerk tucks it into a pamphlet titled "Consumer Fireworks Safety Tips."

Inside it is a list of do's and dont's for fireworks, including a special flier on dry weather tips. The Phantom Fireworks store in Evanston is giving them to every single customer to warn them of fire danger this year.

"We have been actively trying to encourage our customers to comply with local regulations, state regulations and just be in contact with the fire department to make sure they’re obeying the laws and they’re taking the proper safety precautions," said store manager John Avery.

Political leaders in Utah and Wyoming are urging people to skip fireworks in the face of drought and catastrophic wildfire risk. That has impacted Evanston, which is a known hotspot for Utahns who drive up to the border community to visit the many dedicated fireworks stores.

But even Evanston has enacted fireworks restrictions. Uinta County commissioners enacted an all-out ban on fireworks this year. Evanston Mayor Kent Williams said the city has cut down the number of days it will allow people to legally set off fireworks to the Fourth of July only from 5pm to midnight.

"This year is just an interesting year. We’ve got a lot of impacts from the drought," Mayor Williams told FOX 13 on Friday. "Our water reservoirs are depleting, the ground is dry and it’s just a scary time."

The last time the community implemented severe restrictions was on July 4, 2018 — when a wildfire threatened the community. They had to order residents to stop lighting off fireworks in severe winds and canceled the city's professional fireworks show.

Faced with this year's drought and wildfire risk, Mayor Williams said city leaders didn't want a repeat.

"We want people to have fun but if you think about it, something catches fire and the fun’s gone," he said.

The mayor said he's heard from residents both concerned with fires and those who want fireworks fun. He also acknowledged fireworks are a contributor to the community's economy.

At Phantom Fireworks, Avery said sales have been down from previous years. But there were still quite a few customers coming in (including one man who purchased over $3,000 in fireworks while FOX 13 was there). Some customers have purchased "streamer poppers" that don't cause any sparks for fun in areas where fireworks may be prohibited, Avery said.

By the checkout registers is a display on how to safety use fireworks complete with a garden hose and buckets to send a message to customers.

"My recommendation would always be to contact your local fire department to make sure you’re complying. Don’t just take a firework store’s word for it," he told FOX 13.

Across the border in Utah, Governor Spencer Cox has pleaded with residents to skip the fireworks this July and wait until New Year's Eve when conditions will be safer.

Avery said they'll still be here on New Year's for customers who want to use fireworks when conditions are better.

"Be safe," he said.