Does the state need to do more to prevent wildfires? Governor Gary Herbert says in light of this year’s extreme fire season, he’s asked the legislature and other state leaders to review target shooting.
“We are looking at that in a review process now to see if the laws on the books optimize our ability to stop and prevent fires and to address fires once they’re started. We’re asking for input from the sheriffs, police and the League of Cities and Towns and the Utah Association of Counties, and so if there is a need for adjustment in the current legislation, I want to hear those recommendations.”
Firearms are being blamed for nearly 20 fires in the state so far this year, including the Dump Fire in Saratoga Springs that forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.
When it comes to fireworks, Salt Lake City Fire Marshall Martha Ellis says even though the legislature recently reduced the timeframe they can be shot off in the state, it didn’t change the time period in which they can be sold, creating some problems for her department.
“We’re already seeing fireworks being lit in the valley -- aerial fireworks. It gets frustrating for us as fire professionals and safety professionals to have the support of the state where they come in and say ‘ok, maybe it was a bad idea to have them going off everyday from June 26 to July 27,’ and then the citizens just aren’t listening.”
There have been 402 fires so far this year across Utah.