SWEETWATER COUNTY — Despite the precipitation Sweetwater County has seen this spring and early summer, there is still a potential for fires this Fourth of July and residents should take precautions.
Sweetwater County Fire District No. 1 Fire Chief Scott Kitchner said that the holiday always poses a high potential for fires when people are setting off fireworks. While wildland fires aren’t as big of concern this year, Kitchner said there are other fuel materials that can be an issue.
“The wildland is obviously lush with green grass and we’ve received lots of moisture due to all the rain we’ve been having this spring and early summer, so we aren’t too terribly concerned with wildland fires, but we always have the potential for fires in other materials like haystacks, or piles of dry branches and wood that people may have stacked up on their property,” Kitchner said. “The potential is reduced this year but it’s never not a concern for our agency and we will have plenty of staff on duty that night in the event a fire breaks out somewhere in the county.”
Even though fire danger has reduced this year because of the amount of moisture the area has received, people still need to be careful with fireworks and campfires.
“The unusually high moisture that we have experienced in Sweetwater County has reduced the fire danger so far this summer. That doesn’t mean that people still don’t need to take precautions, fires can still happen. It just means the fire may not spread as fast or burn as intensely as it would in dryer conditions. We all need to be prepared and cautious and still maintain all the safety guidelines recommended when lighting off fireworks or enjoying a campfire,” Kitchner said.
Kitchner and Fire District No. 1 remind residents that it is illegal to shoot off fireworks in the unincorporated areas of Sweetwater County and on all federal and state-owned lands. The only exception is on privately owned lands with the owner’s permission. It is also illegal to set fireworks off within the city limits of Rock Springs and Green River.
The Fire District also wants to ensure residents that if caught shooting off fireworks on these lands you may be fined and can be held liable for any suppression costs or other damages caused by fireworks.
In a press release from Fire District No. 1, they state that “Independence Day, unfortunately, is one of the busiest days of the year for our responders. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more fires are reported on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year, and two out of five are fireworks-related incidents.”
It goes on to say, “We urge holiday revelers to use extreme caution around fireworks. Consumer fireworks are dangerous and the risks to personal safety and the safety of the community are significant.”
According to the NFPA, over 9,600 people in the United States are injured by fireworks annually. Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks, cookouts and community events can quickly turn to disaster if proper precautions are not taken.
Fire District No. 1 provides the following safety rules to ensure everyone can have a fun and safe holiday.
- Leave fireworks to the professionals
- The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals
- Always read and follow label directions
- Always have an adult present
- Only ignite fireworks outdoors and away from other flammable materials
- Be sure to have water handy
- Light only one at a time
- Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks
- Dispose of fireworks properly in a metal container or bucket of water before throwing them away
To report fires, call 911 or to report fires on BLM lands, call 1-800-295-9953.