Utah fires spark fireworks and gun regulations discussion

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Published June 25th; Updated June 26th

The Sanpete fire remains dangerously out of control, with fire fighters reporting flames of over 100 feet high Sunday. Wildfires are occurring far too frequently in Utah this summer, and the aftermath effects cannot yet be determined.

Air quality remains better than it looks, with winds breaking up the smoke to help clear the air. While air pollution has not been reported at a dangerous level yet, anyone who might have breathing issues is encouraged to remain indoors.

A proposal has been announced placing restrictions on Utah fireworks — not because of the risk for wildfires, but because people want to sleep. The bill requests fireworks to be legally launched between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. The issue arose because several citizens complained to police because of noise, rather than the danger fireworks present during the current drought. According to the Interior Bureau of Land Management, the purchase and use of fireworks on state or federal land at any time is illegal and highly dangerous.

Utah shooting regulations have yet to be changed. Current law prevents any restriction on recreational shooting without Legislature permission, regardless of the environmental conditions or high risk of fires. The governor of Utah pleads with citizens to take caution and refrain from gun use at this time.

“Now is not a good time to take your gun outside and start shooting in cheat grass that’s tinder dry,” Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Smokey the Bear tells everyone what we need to do: “Only you can prevent wildfires.” On the state fire website, viewers can learn how to keep themselves safe and prevent another fire from starting.

Many BYU students enjoy participating in campfires and bonfires during the summer, and these can be healthy sources of fun if maintained properly. Rules include never leaving a fire unattended, building fires away from low branches and dry brush that could catch fire easily, when putting out a fire, use water and a shovel and stay near to make sure the fire is out completely and avoiding driving or parking on dry grass.

For students who are considering buying and using fireworks this Independence Day, refer to Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield’s fireworks restrictions.

Because of the extremely dry, hazardous conditions, fireworks are restricted in all areas of Provo within 30 feet of combustible weeds, grasses, shrubs, fences or structures. Selected Provo City parks have been designated for legal consumer fireworks: Seretoma Park, Exchange Park, Fort Utah Park, Footprinters Park, Kiwanis Park, and Provost Park.

These restrictions will be aggressively enforced, according to the fire marshal. Violators are subject to maximum fines and could be held civilly liable for any harm caused while violating this regulation.

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