SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah News) -Salt Lake City Fire Marshal Ryan Mellor says he’s a guy who enjoys his pyrotechnics.
“I love fireworks,” Chief Mellor told reporters Monday. “I love when I get to set ’em off but this year I’m not goin’ near ’em.”
After his Department fought 43 fires in the first 11 days of July, they’re now banning fireworks east of 900 East and west of Redwood Road. As in past years, fireworks are allowed from South Temple Street in the north to the City border in the South. Chief Mellor says if dry conditions worsen, they could expand those restricted areas.
“What people don’t realize is they look around and they see the green in the trees but we have an urban forest and there’s a canopy,” Chief Mellor explained. “That canopy is tinder dry and it’s waiting for something to go off.”
Other cities like Millcreek, Cottonwood Heights and West Jordan have banned fireworks that go above 15 feet in the air to keep their citizens and property safe.
“There’s a fallacy…that aerial fireworks are the enemy and aerial fireworks are what’s bad but in reality all fireworks right now are just not a good thing,” Chief Mellor said. “The ground fireworks are just as dangerous as the aerial ones because they’re closer to the ground where the dry brush is.”
Chief Mellor made his point with a demonstration, igniting some legal, readily available fireworks at a SLC Fire training facility.
“If you light this and there’s dry grass somewhere that’s way worse than up in the air,” Chief Mellor said, then kicking over a lit fountain shooting sparks. “If we were to knock this over, wind comes up and knocks it over and I tell you what, 9 times out of 10 when I go out on a fireworks fire, that’s what’s happened.”
The Chief recommends attending a professional display and warns that if you do start a fire, you could see a lot of money go up in smoke.
“We will hold people responsible for that,” the Chief said. “They can be liable for up to whatever he damage is up to the cost of putting out the fire.”
Fireworks can be set off in legal areas between Friday, July 21st and Thursday, July 27th, three days before to three days after Pioneer Day.