By Kelsey Keener
CEDAR CITY–Iron County law enforcement is urging residents to remain cautious of fire danger when using fireworks this summer.
Fire restrictions were put into place earlier this month for southern Utah due to the dry conditions the area is experiencing and the amount of flammable material in recreational and unincorporated areas. Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said it’s important to abide by these restrictions during the upcoming holiday when residents may choose to light fireworks.
“I want people to understand the gravity of the situation of this time of year with the dry conditions that we’re experiencing,” he said. “The fire hazard right now has never been worse.”
Under the current restrictions, discharging fireworks on any unincorporated private land is a Class B Misdemeanor. If a fire is started due to negligence with fireworks or other reckless behavior, the responsible party will be liable for the fire suppression costs as well as any damage to private property.
“This time of year it’s very important that people understand the fireworks law and the dangers that come along with lighting them off,” Gower said. “We do not want to get a wildfire going and I’d really hate to see somebody out just trying to have fun end up with millions and millions of dollars of liability which will devastate them for rest of their life, because it doesn’t take much.”
Gower added that the Iron County Sheriff’s Department is taking these restrictions seriously.
“Our deputies will be strictly enforcing these restrictions and holding people accountable,” he said.
Fire Department Chief Phillips echoed the need to exercise caution with fireworks, as current conditions in southern Utah are prime for fires.
“It’s really dry and there’s no rain in the forecast at all,” he said. “Last year on the fourth (of July) we had 19 fires, which was a record on the fourth, and that’s just because people were careless with their fireworks.”
Chief Phillips added that the cost of suppression for a recent firework-caused fire was $400, which required one fire engine, two command vehicles and 30 minutes of firefighting. The cost of suppression increases with the need for more fire engines and more time to put the fire out.
Cedar City has not chosen to restrict the discharging of fireworks within the incorporated city, but officials recommend the following locations for doing so: the South parking lot of Cedar High School; the parking lot at the Bicentennial Softball Park; the South parking lot of the Canyon View High School; the West parking lot of the Cedar City Aquatic Center; the parking lot at the Iron Springs Elementary School.