SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – If you plan to celebrate Pioneer Day in Utah this weekend, some of our state leaders hope you do it without fireworks. They’re concerned people lighting off their own fireworks will lead to more wildfires throughout the state, and hope you do something different instead, in this edition of Behind the Badge.

Billowing smoke and flames from wildfires now raging across the state are top of mind for the Utah State Fire Marshal.

“It’s not something that’s imagined, the hazard is real,” said Ted Black, Utah State Fire Marshal.

ABC4 News interviewed the State Fire Marshal Ted Black prior to the 4th of July, who, at the time, expressed concerns that people lighting fireworks would lead to wildfires. From what we know, that’s exactly what happened. What became known as the Deuel Creek fire in Centerville broke out the night before the 4th, reportedly from someone setting off fireworks.  

“We live right there, and they have the signs up that say don’t shoot fireworks off for a reason,” said Violet Lufkin, who lives near the Deuel Creek fire.  

The flames forced nearly 90 families to evacuate, and firefighters worked through steep rugged terrain to contain the flames. The fire marshal wants to avoid a repeat of Pioneer Day and is encouraging Utahns to not do their own fireworks this weekend.

“You’re just going to be much safer if you leave it to the professionals this year,” said Black.

Utah’s Governor is repeating that message too.

“I’m sure our ancestors will be very pleased with the professional firework shows and not the one in your yard that is starting other people’s houses on fire,” said Gov. Spencer Cox, (R) Utah.

The Governor said over the last week and a half Utah has seen at least 20 wildfires caused by humans, including the massive Halfway Hill fire in Millard County that destroyed more than 11,700 acres. To ensure fireworks from Pioneer Day don’t make it worse, the Fire Marshal said more people need to know this is not the year to light fireworks yourself.

“We hope those that get the message share the message with other people that this is the year to be safe and be cautious,” Black said.

He said being safe doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate; he just doesn’t want fireworks to burn someone’s house down.

The fire marshal said it’s up to you how you celebrate Pioneer Day, but he said last year Utahns got the message loud and clear, and he hopes we do it again this year.