In the midst of an early and deadly wildfire season, Utah is bracing for its annual Fourth of July celebrations with the hope people will use common sense, obey restrictions, and try to keep the state from experiencing further destruction from human caused wildfires.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert has yet to restrict fireworks, campfires and target shooting statewide, although he announced Monday that he will ask for help in unincorporated areas and will work with local communities to put bans on target shooting in place.
Herbert and leaders of the legislature have asked state Forester Dick Beuhler to issue a ban on the use of firearms in unincorporated areas while maintaining this is not an infringement of the Second Amendment as it does not stop people from carrying firearms if they can legally do so. Many of the recent wildfires have been caused by people target shooting in the foothills, where a single spark can start a fire fed by dry grass and undergrowth. These fires, fueled by recent winds, have threatened and consumed acres of property, out-buildings and homes throughout the state.
The newly tweaked Utah fireworks law allows a month for purchasing legal fireworks within the state but limits their use three days before and three days after the holiday. Similar restrictions surround Utah’s Pioneer Day celebrations on July 24. However, many Utah communities have put a full ban on all fireworks due to tinder dry conditions. Fireworks in unincorporated areas have already been banned by Beuhler.
There is concern that there will be confusion about where fireworks will be allowed, and that a complete ban would lessen that confusion. Some local stores have pulled fireworks from their shelves in order to cut down on availability to the general public due to the high fire danger. For current information about restrictions in your area, click here.
Herbert is urging people to use common-sense, but doesn’t want the state to over- react. He said, “We can meet together and pass law after law after law. But you can’t pass a law that outlaws stupid. We have foolish behavior going on out there.”
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Source: ABC4 News, KUTV News, Deseret News, Governor’s Office, Utah Department of Public Safety