Teens playing with a Roman candle may be charged for setting off fire that threatened Lehi, Draper

(Justin Reeves via AP) The Traverse Fire burns behind homes in Lehi, Utah, Sunday, June 28, 2020. Officials say fireworks caused the wildfire and forced evacuations early Sunday morning.

Pyrotechnics are not to be discharged in Utah more than two days ahead of Independence Day, but that didn’t stop scofflaws from igniting fireworks that unleashed at least two wildfires over the weekend, including one that threatened neighborhoods in Lehi and Draper.

A group of teens playing with a Roman candle ignited the hillside above Vialetto Way late Saturday, triggering what became known as the Traverse Fire, Lehi Fire Chief Jeremy Craft said Monday. The fast-moving flames also prompted a multiagency firefighting response to save neighborhoods on the edge of Traverse Mountain separating Utah and Salt Lake counties.

The chief said written statements have been supplied by some of the juveniles, who face possible criminal charges in connection with the fire.

“They were in a restricted area where you can never use fireworks,” Craft said, “and it was outside the window when they can be used in Utah.”

Crews had the Traverse Fire completely contained at 467 acres Monday. No homes were lost in that fire, but another human-caused blaze — possibly from at abandoned campfire — destroyed at least one home in the nearby Knolls Fire.

Illegal fireworks also triggered flames Sunday in Snow Canyon outside St. George, where 234 acres burned and State Road 18 was closed for several hours. About 40 firefighters had the Volcano Fire 80% contained Monday, according to fire information officer Mike Melton.

A wave of fires, driven by high winds, kept firefighters busy all weekend.

“It’s been a wild 48 hours,” said Jason Curry, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

He hopes the fires drive home a few key points leading into what is expected to be a busy fire season on the heels of Utah’s third-driest spring on record.

“Fire behavior is extreme when we have red flag warning days. Paying attention to the weather is critical. We live in a desert,” Curry said. “We are pleading with the public to be careful, especially with fireworks. If you set off fireworks before July 2, you will be ticketed. You could be faced with the cost of replacing someone’s home and putting the fire out.”

Utah law restricts the use of legal fireworks to July 2-5 for July Fourth celebrations and July 22-25 for Pioneer Day.