As the massive Pack Creek fire burned Tuesday evening, June 12, the Moab City Council passed the strongest fireworks ban they could, though City Attorney Chris McAnany acknowledged that “the state has not given [the council] a great deal of flexibility to deal with extreme drought conditions.” City officials confirmed that as of now, civic bodies in Grand County will host the annual fire works display on Fourth of July.
Added McAnany, “The case could be made that it’s irresponsible to light fireworks anywhere. That said, state law, which we’re bound to adhere to, says that you can only ban fireworks discharge in areas that are particularly fire-prone and so what we’ve done here is we’ve said that areas that we know are problematic: Pack Creek, Mill Creek, certain parks” can’t have fireworks use. “Those areas we’re saying that it’s absolutely prohibited. But other areas—at the end of your driveway, on pavement, this ordinance allows for people to shoot common class C fireworks in those areas.”
McAnany said that the only fireworks allowed are small class C fireworks such as sparklers and smoke bombs. Fireworks that “go up and blow up” are still prohibited by state law, as always.
City Manager David Everitt added, “Things are at a very critical stage in southeast Utah and southwest Colorado. What this ordinance does is impose a temporary ban. However, it does not have a time limit or an ending date.” Everitt said the council would have to return to the issue at a later date to end the fireworks ban.
There will be a fine of up to $1000 for shooting off fireworks in prohibited areas. In Mayor Emily Niehaus’ words, it’s “bad news, [so] don’t do it.”
Council Member Rani Derasary suggested adding the language that it’s unlawful for any person to discharge any fireworks within 20 feet of any residence, dwelling, structure or combustible material.” The council quickly agreed.
Council Member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd added that in addition to being dangerous, it may be inconsiderate to shoot off fireworks.
“Not only are these a danger as far as fire goes… they cause a lot of people a lot of distress, whether that be somebody that has PTSD... If you have a neighbor that you know this affects badly, that’s not a neighborly thing to do.”
Niehaus noted that “we are still on for the big show” on July 4.
“We are not banning the big show,” Niehaus said.
“As of yet,” added Everitt.