St. George fire officials respond to brush fire caused by illegal fireworks use

Southern Utah

ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – As residents gear up for the Fourth of July weekend, fire officials in Southern Utah are warning of the many dangers of fireworks.

St. George fire officials responded to a brush fire on the Cottonwood Springs Road in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve Tuesday evening. Authorities say a group of individuals started the fire while using aerial fireworks in a restricted area.

With high temperatures, dry conditions, and winds reaching up to 30 miles per hour Tuesday, St. George Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said crews believed the fire would quickly torch dozens of acres before they could contain it.

“Here particularly it’s extra dangerous because we’ve just got thousands and thousands of acres of fuel that’s just ready to burn and ready to go,” said Hooper.

Hooper said firefighters were able to contain the flames within just a quarter acre, in part because those responsible called 911 immediately and remained on scene.

As Fourth of July weekend approaches, fire authorities said they’re particularly concerned with fireworks use given the current conditions. Last month, fire officials warned this year will likely be the worst fire season in the St. George metropolitan area in over a decade.

Hooper added that typically crews respond to as many as 50 fires in St. George alone during the holiday weekend and this year may be especially busy for them.

All it takes is a single spark, he added.

“Things happen so fast,” Snow Canyon State Park hiker Monte Payne said, who worked as a firefighter in California for more than twenty years. “A little fire explodes on you before you know what’s going on.”

In St. George, no fireworks can be used within 200 feet of a wash or dry brush area. This year, people can only discharge fireworks during the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. between July 2nd and July 5th.

The City of St. George website provides an interactive map with fireworks restricted areas and can be accessed here.

The City of St. George has provided a list of safety tips for fireworks:

  • Use only fireworks purchased in the State of Utah from licensed dealers or retailers. If you purchased the fireworks out of state, they may not be legal in this state.  You will be cited if found to be in possession of illegal fireworks, and will be responsible to pay for damages and extinguishing costs as a result of any fires that you cause.
  • Use fireworks only with responsible adult supervision at all times.
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Light the fireworks in an open area and on a non-combustible surface, such as a driveway or paved area. 
  • If windy conditions exist, do not light fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water available.
  • Handle used and “dud” fireworks with a shovel.
  • Soak fireworks thoroughly in a bucket of water, or douse them with a hose prior to disposal.
  • Keep clear while lighting fireworks, and do not lean over them at any time.
  • Do not relight “dud” fireworks.
  • Watch out for your pets and animals.  It is preferable to keep them indoors and away from the displays.
  • Check for any restrictions that may apply to your area.

No fireworks of any kind are to be used within 200 feet of the following areas: 

  • Dry washes and drainages
  • River and stream corridors
  • Hillsides, plateaus and mesa tops
  • Undeveloped open space or natural terrain

 Use of fireworks is completely prohibited in the development north of Snow Canyon Parkway on State Road 18, including The Ledges development.

Prohibited activities include:

  • No discharge of fireworks within the areas listed
  • No firecrackers, cherry bombs, roman candles, bottle rockets, single or re-loadable mortars, or other Class “C” fireworks not State of Utah approved.
  • Recreational fires, unless the location is approved by the fire department (click here for recreational burning regulations)
  • Welding, cutting, or grinding within the areas listed, unless approved by the fire department.
  • No sky lanterns.

To report fireworks use in restricted areas, authorities urge residents to call 435-627-4300 to report it.


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