Salt Lake police and fire officials patrolled the streets Monday, searching for fireworks lovers whose pyrotechnics last year prompted 113 police or fire calls and 98 calls for medical assistance.
The Salt Lake foothills and surrounding areas are tinder dry, Fire Capt. Gordon Nicholl said."The fire danger is extreme right now," Nicholl said Sunday, as he prepared for a marathon shift the Fourth of July, cruising Salt Lake City for "flagrant" fireworks violations from 4 p.m. Monday to 2 a.m. Tuesday
Conditions are similar to 1982 in Anaheim, Calif., he said, when strong Santa Ana winds, precious little precipitation and temperatures above 100 degrees dried out vegetation and roofs.
Nearly 500 dwelling units and 53 buildings were destroyed by the fire that broke out when winds toppled a power line that set a palm tree ablaze. Winds then carried the flames to the wood shake roofs of nearby buildings, forcing about 1,500 people to evacuate.
Shake roofs in Salt Lake City are "just explosive" this holiday, Nicholl said, and temperatures inside attics can reach 200 degrees.
"And you can imagine what happens to those roofs when a bottle rocket hits them," he said.
Salt Lake Fire Prevention Bureau and Fire Department staff members will ride with police officers Monday night, paying special attention to the northeast bench.
"That's where people like to go watch the fireworks," and set off a few of their own, Nicholl said.
And the National Forest Service is reminding people to leave the fireworks home when venturing up the canyons or on federal lands.
"Fireworks are definitely illegal on National Forest land," said Dan Rounds, an Interagency Fire Center dispatcher. "Also, fires are not allowed anywhere except in regulation fire pits."
Possession of illegal fireworks, those that explode or leave the ground, is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and a one-year jail sentence.
"Last Fourth of July, from dusk to 2 a.m., we had 113 fireworks-related calls and 98 medical calls in Salt Lake City alone," Nicholl said.
In Utah, two children were injured with sparklers, the fire captain said. A boy lost an eye to a sparkler, and a girl who was running with the glittering display fell and scarred her face.
"We're encouraging people to have a hose handy and especially a water bucket" for sparklers, Nicholl said.