Fourth of July Fireworks are being blamed for triggering grass and structure fires in northern Utah. The damage was still being tallied on Wednesday.
A blaze started by fireworks prompted two people to jump from a third-floor apartment balcony in Midvale, and now 100 people have been displaced. The Unified Fire Authority suspects fireworks also started a grass fire that caused property damage at three Cottonwood Heights homes.
“It was scary,” said Cottonwood Heights resident Chuck Lewis. “But it’s not the first time it happened here.”
Lewis and his wife were on the backyard deck watching fireworks in the valley. Behind them, they also noticed family fireworks across the grassy landscape. And soon wind was carrying flames their way.
“Fires go faster than what you think they’re gonna do,” recalls Margo Lewis. “And the first thing I thought is: ‘Get the dogs, my purse’.”
The Lewis’ drove down the hill and watched the flames. The fire destroyed their bird coop and some trees but stopped short of their home.
Their next-door neighbors weren’t so lucky. The fire melted siding on their house and some trees caught fire.
“It’s just too dangerous with how dry it’s been, and then you get these canyon winds that come down,” says Mary Burt, who stopped by Wednesday to check the damage to the home where she’d grown up. She says her mother and brother had gotten out safely, but her family has always worried about fireworks because of that open space.
“It’s literally a recipe for disaster – especially when people are doing them in areas like this, where they’re completely ignoring the signs that it’s banned.”
Like the Lewis’, Burt sees no reason for backyard fireworks in the summer, and she wants to see bans enforced.
Fireworks are banned on state and federal lands. And the best way to learn more about the fire restrictions in your area is to call your local fire department.