PROVO — The first day of summer came with fire restrictions for residents of Provo.
As of Wednesday, open burning within the city limits was restricted unless done in designated areas and target shooting was prohibited outside of the city's gun club, according to the Provo fire marshal.
"Fires, including open flame and smoking materials, in the foothills, areas bordering the foothills and any Provo City watershed areas are prohibited except in designated fire pits in improved campgrounds and recreation areas," the marshal said in a prepared statement.
Provo Deputy Fire Chief Gary Jolley said the city implements restrictions on fireworks every year, but decided to ban open fires this year in keeping with restrictions from the Forest Service and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. All of the restrictions have been prompted by dry conditions that have jump-started the fire season in the state.
"We have very low fuel moisture content," Jolley said. "We're trying to be proactive to prevent a problem coming up with with the holidays and a dry summer."
Jolley said it is as dry now as it usually is in mid-July. Provo residents need to be careful because of the foothills surrounding the city, but those with fire pits and barbecues need not worry as long as the fire pits are within city code.
"We're not telling people they can't enjoy fires and barbecues and that stuff, we just want to make sure they're safe and doing it in the right areas," Jolley said.
Under the restrictions, target shooting at anywhere other than the Provo Gun Club is banned. But Jolley said the city already requires residents to limit their use of firearms to designated or controlled fire ranges.
"We dont want them shooting because it's just too dry," Jolley said. "We're just trying to make sure we're taking precautions, not causing a problem."
The gun club has taken extra precautions itself, Jolley said, by having employees supervise the shooting and limiting ammunition to types that won't create a spark.
Off-highway vehicles can be used in areas where they are permitted if they are equipped with spark arrestors.
The restrictions will remain in place until withdrawn by the fire marshal and "will be aggressively enforced." Those found in violation could face a class B misdemeanor citation and a $523 fine.
Jolley said www.provo.org has more information, especially regarding the use of fireworks.
Anyone with questions can call 801-852-6321 or 801-852-6210.