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Yes, the forest fire danger is really that bad • Salt Lake Magazine


I know. I know. You want to be able to light fireworks with your friends and family on Independence Day. And, let’s be honest, no one is going to stop you. While some cities have stricter restrictions on fireworks than others, there is no general ban on fireworks in Utah (unless you are on public land). For the most part, unless your city has unique restrictions, you’re safe as long as you turn them on July 2-5 (or July 22-25 for the Pioneer Day holiday).

But just because you can get away with it, right? It’s dry there. Most of the state is subject to extreme drought, creating the perfect conditions for wildfires to start and spread quickly.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, already this year, people have started up to 370 forest fires in Utah. It is 370 forest fires that could have been avoided. At a press conference on Wednesday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said 81 percent of this year’s wildfires, which burned 23,000 acres, were man-made. Fireworks sparked 65 forest fires last year. This does not include city fires caused by fireworks.

Many fire chiefs and leaders of state and local governments are begging members of the public to forgo any personal fireworks this year, imploring them instead to see a show put on by their community. So if they’re all so against the people lighting fireworks this year, why not ban it outright?

On this point, the governor says his hands are tied. At that same press conference, he criticized state law for not giving him the power to ban fireworks. Most towns and cities also fail an outright ban, also pointing out that state law prohibits them from doing so. (The notable exception is Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who enacted a ban on personal fireworks throughout Salt Lake City.)

Although pointing fingers is a very mature way of dealing with the situation, it almost the impression that no one wants to be held responsible for taking away the people’s fireworks (even during the state’s record drought).


Here is a list of local fireworks restrictions to see what your city allows and Salt lake the magazine’s story about where you can catch a community fireworks show on July 4th, instead of starting your own airborne wildfires.


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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion