SALT LAKE CITY — Friday is the day fire departments across Utah have been worried about heading into the holiday weekend as fireworks are now allowed to be used in unrestricted areas.
While fireworks have been on sale for more than a week, Friday at 11 a.m. is the beginning of the open period to set them off.
Despite the restrictions, people have been lighting personal fireworks early, which is illegal in the state.
With high temperatures and the air drying out, fire officials say Utah is a tinderbox due to the extreme drought. Fire departments across Utah are scheduling extra staff over the next few days to deal with potential wildfires started by fireworks.
"A lot of people are working a lot of hours, a lot of different shifts, call backs and overtime," said Asst. Fire Chief Riley Patrick with the Unified Fire Authority. "When we get to that point, our firefighters are out there and responding to these calls already and it gets dangerous."
"I’m nervous going into the weekend with just how critical conditions are state-wide. It’s drier than we’ve ever seen. Fire potential is very high," added Kait Webb of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Just because fireworks are allowed starting Friday morning does not mean they can be used everywhere. Large portions of the state are restricted areas, meaning it is still illegal to set them off.
Anyone caught breaking fireworks restrictions faces a $1,000 fine and could be billed for the cost of fighting any fire they start.
The legal period to light fireworks lasts until 11 p.m. Monday.