With more than 80,000 acres of Utah land in flames, city officials are placing considerable restrictions on the use of fireworks throughout the state. Utah Governor Gary Herbert addressed reporters outside the state capitol Thursday with the State Fire Marshall and dozens of city mayors.
A statewide ban on fireworks has already been issued outside of city limits. Utah Governor Gary Herbert says now it’s up to local governments to decide how far to go with restrictions inside city limits, noting a patchwork of regulations will also require some effort on the part of individuals who wish to set them off.
“It’s not asking too much in these extraordinary circumstances that we have today to call the local law enforcement public safety people, the mayors and the council people and find out, where can we set them off,” he says.
The city of Vernal, for instance has restricted the use of fireworks to one single parking lot. Carlton Christensen is a member of the Salt Lake City Council and is the first vice president of the Utah League of Cities and Towns. He says clearly it’s going to be frustrating, but people should consider the circumstances.
“In some of these communities they’re staring at fire route outside of their front door. So for them it’s a threatening to their lives and their homes and those kinds of things," he says. "So they feel pretty frustrated. And to have somebody go and shoot something off in the midst of that exposure, they’re scared and they’re taking some very aggressive actions.”
In addition to fireworks, the Governor told reporters at his monthly news conference he’s trying to garner support for a special session of the legislature to address the regulation of firearms, which have been the cause of at least twenty wildfires in the state this year.
State Fire Marshall Brent Halladay says he would like to see something done about it.
“The first few times I told the news when they talked to me, no but after 20 I’m starting to wonder if it’s not time that we look at some sort of redefining of people’s rights when it gets this bad,” he says.
There are half a dozen active wildfires currently burning across the state, which have lead to the loss of roughly eighty structures, one fatality, several injuries and one missing person.
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