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Preventing disaster

Published June 15, 2012 1:01 am

Ban on fireworks, fires is welcome
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utahns should welcome a state and federal ban on open fires and all types of fireworks, tracer ammunition and other pyrotechnic devices, and strict limits on smoking.

Utah is a tinderbox, and it would be irresponsible, and idiotic, for anyone to risk setting any part of the state ablaze. The ban is effective on all state and federal land and all private unincorporated areas. Municipal authorities should adopt the same type of ban within cities.

The Beehive State is facing a perfect storm of circumstances making it ripe for the type of horrific wildfires that residents of New Mexico and Colorado have watched destroy their homes, cabins and millions of acres of forest and grassland. Utah's lack of winter snow, record-breaking heat and wind are combining to make this potentially the most dangerous fire season in memory.

And this year is likely to become the new normal as global temperatures continue to rise, caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It seems humans are more willing to take their chances on possibly avoiding the consequences rather than take action to reduce the effects of climate change.

Giving up private fireworks displays, fires outside improved campgrounds and smoking outside a building, car or developed recreation site is a small price to pay to help prevent conflagrations.

Evidence of the potential harm of irresponsible behavior is also in Utah, in two large fires that have been contained in separate areas and four smaller blazes. Four of the six were human-caused. One was sparked by a hot metal wheel that broke off a travel trailer north of St. George and landed in dry grass. It charred 56 acres and threatened three homes.

The Box Creek fire burned 2,170 acres; the Lost Lake fire charred 2,100 acres. Hundreds of firefighters, water-bearing helicopters and earth-moving equipment worked for days on those fires, costing millions in state and federal funds.

So far, Utahns have been fortunate that no lives of firefighters or residents have been lost. But the danger remains high and we're not even into the hottest, driest months. Blazes that consume thousands of acres affect watershed, wildlife habitat, recreation and grazing for years to come.

Utahns love the outdoors and many choose to live in remote areas bordering forests and open spaces called the urban interface. Wildfires that threaten such residential areas must be fought and contained, no matter the cost to taxpayers nor the danger to firefighters.

They, particularly, but also everyone else, have a duty to avoid any behavior that gives fire a chance.