SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Lighting fireworks in Utah right now is illegal but that’s not stopping people from setting them off.
ABC4 went to a neighborhood in Salt Lake City where people complained of their neighbors performing personal firework shows.
“I heard some cracker (sound) or something like that, but I did not see any lights flaming or any of those things,” Bert Gomez said.
Although Gomez didn’t see the fireworks, ABC4’s Brittany Johnson confirmed with multiple people in the neighborhood, who did not want to go on camera, that people have been lighting up fireworks.
After Johnson’s 10:00 report Wednesday night, she found someone in the neighborhood lighting off fireworks. The person told her that they didn’t know it was illegal, and packed up all of the fireworks and went inside the house.
Early Wednesday, firefighters with the Salt Lake City Fire Department canvassed restricted areas near the neighborhood to educate people on lighting fireworks in restricted areas, and lighting them when it’s not legal.
“Anybody who doesn’t want to follow the law, I cannot say anything about that, but they’re stupid,” Gomez said.
Utahns can legally light fireworks from July 2-5, and again from July 22-25.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re legal where you are,” said Matthew McFarland, Spokesperson for Unified Fire Authority. “Here in Olympus Cove in the Millcreek area, we have street signs we’ve put up at entrances above Wasatch, which is all a no go area for fireworks, year-round.”
“Even if you live in an area of legal use, there is a risk. Fireworks are explosives. They do have fire involved in them. This is a volatile time of year. We saw just today, after two days of decent rain, we saw a field fire right in the river bottoms in Midvale with pretty decent behavior,” McFarland told ABC4 News.
The firefighter spokesperson said even when it becomes legal to light fireworks, you could be responsible for any damage you cause.
“If you cause damage, or if you’re using illegal fireworks, you’re going to face a fine of up to $1,000, as well as paying for the damages that are incurred due to your accident.”
McFarland said Utah’s recent weather pattern can be deceptive to people, but he wants to remind people that we are in the thick of wildfire season and “the fire danger is there.”
“We’ve had some really cool weather. Just in this week we’ve seen rain, it snowed at higher elevations, which seems crazy for the last week of June,” he said. “We’ve had over a month of red flag warnings. Almost every day of the month of June we had a field fire somewhere in the Salt Lake Valley and some extreme fire behavior in Northern Utah County.”
“Especially as we get into the weekend as it gets hotter and dryer and if the wind is picking up. Fuel, weather, and topography, those are the three factors that drive a wildfire and really none of them are in control of humans.”
McFarland said the weather conditions in Utah are perfect for a fire to start quickly.
“Things can turn in a hurry. We’ve seen things as small as a simple smoke bomb — people think of them as just putting up a cloud of smoke but they produce heat — but we saw multiple houses burn one year in Herriman just off a small smoke bomb.”
Gomez says even when it becomes legal for people to set them off, he doesn’t want his neighbors lighting fireworks near his home.
“They should not do it. Absolutely not. Not here. Find some other place where it’s not dangerous.”