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As drought conditions worsen, fire chiefs remind Utahns of fireworks rules for July 24 holiday

Two Utah fire chiefs urged residents to use the same level of caution and compliance with fireworks for the upcoming Pioneer Day holiday as they did over the Fourth of July. (Stuart Johnson, KSL-TV)



LEHI — Two Utah fire chiefs urged residents to use the same level of caution and compliance with fireworks for the upcoming Pioneer Day holiday as they did over the Fourth of July.

"Continue to do what you did over the Fourth," said Fire Chief Clint Smith with the Draper City Fire Department. "We can't let our guard down by any means. The threat still exists. The threat is still significant and very real."

In areas where fireworks are permitted, Utah law allows them to be discharged starting on Thursday, July 22, through Sunday, July 25, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. On the actual holiday, July 24, the discharge time is extended until midnight.

Ahead of July 4, many Utah cities enacted fireworks restrictions that remain in place for the July 24 holiday.

Smith said drought conditions have only worsened since the beginning of the month.

"Our fuels have continued to dry out," he said. "They were already extremely dry, so what little moisture level they had left in them is now gone."

On Monday, Fire Chief Jeremy Craft with the Lehi Fire Department walked the area on Traverse Mountain where there was a fireworks-caused blaze last summer and said the hillside is prime to burn again.

"It's incredibly dry up there," said Craft. "It's way drier than even when the fire started at Traverse."

Craft said the entire city is drier than it was over the Fourth of July and encouraged residents to skip a year with fireworks and go see a professional show instead.

"Even when you drive around town, our residents' lawns are getting drier because they're adhering to the water restrictions," Craft said. "I think we're even more volatile now than we were at the Fourth."

The Traverse Fire prompted evacuations in Lehi and Draper in the middle of the night.

Chiefs Smith and Craft said they never want to have that situation again.

"Generally, a fire has to expend some of its energy in actually drying out the fuel to make it be able to burn," Smith explained. "Our fires don't have to do that right now. The fuels are ready to burn. They can expend all of their energy on fire growth, which makes for really explosive conditions."

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Ladd Egan

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