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Summit County lays out firework restrictions

(Graphic posted to Summit County's Facebook page regarding the restrictions.)

SUMMIT COUNTY – Officials in Summit County are hoping to get ahead of any firework-related problems for the 24th of July.  They’re setting restrictions in place, as firefighters report human-caused blazes are already at very high levels. 

Effective immediately, Summit County is prohibiting fireworks in all unincorporated areas.  County officials say the order stems from dry vegetation along with their current and forecasted weather conditions.  Violating this order could land someone in jail for up to six months, along with a $1,000 fine. 

The reason for Summit County fire restrictions 

It was approved by the Utah State Forester after county officials reached out for his assessment. Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands spokesman, Jason Curry, said people need to make sure they research which portions of the county are unincorporated.

“In Summit County, there are a lot of locations that are unincorporated but are city-like or town-like,” Curry said.

The number of human-caused fires is extremely high this year. Curry noted there have already been 634 blazes caused by people, whether accidentally or intentionally. Compare that to 2019, when there were only 328 by this date.

“We’ve double the number of human-caused fires for July 20th over last year,” explained Curry.

Curry also pointed out 2019 was a slow fire year. However, if you compare it to the more comparable 2018, Curry said we only had 465 by this time back then. 

Another concern for Summit County, like the rest of the state, is the weather. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service (NWS) state the middle to the end of July is typically the warmest time of the year, and most of the state has been very dry for a long time.

“Beginning in mid-March, it was the second driest spring on record,” according to NWS Forecaster Glen Merrill. 

Utah is just beginning to go into monsoon season, which will bring more moisture to the state. But Merrill explained we’re not far enough into that season for it to have any significant impact on wildfires. 

“We really cured this vegetation and dried it out pretty quickly and we haven’t been receiving much precipitation to get the moisture back into the fuels themselves,” said Merrill.

The NWS is predicting high-elevation storms to come from the south over the next few days, so they’re expecting to see lightning but very little rain.  They’re issuing a red flag warning for much of southern Utah for Tuesday, then a fire watch for most of northern Utah for Wednesday.