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July 26, 2021

‘It’s even drier this year’: Lehi fire officials warn of fireworks danger 1 year after Traverse Mountain fire

New signage reminds Lehi residents that fireworks are banned in the Traverse Mountain area. (Stuart Johnson, KSL TV)

LEHI – New signs were posted at neighborhood entrances along Traverse Mountain in Utah County as a reminder that fireworks are off limits in the area.

“I want them to know you cannot light fireworks up there,” said Fire Chief Jeremy Craft with the Lehi Fire Department.

This weekend will mark the one-year anniversary of the Traverse Fire that occurred overnight from June 27 to 28 last summer. The blaze forced the evacuation of dozens of homes in Lehi and Draper.

“We had some juveniles up there messing around with some illegal fireworks and touched it off,” Craft said. “It was a roman candle, and just like that, it took off. It was dry — it’s even drier this year.”

For several hours, strong wind gusts pushed the flames towards homes as firefighters from several agencies rushed to help.

“Mother Nature helped us out,” Craft said. “Right at almost the very last minute, that wind event kind of calmed down and gave us just enough opportunity. We got ahead of it and we were able to save those homes.”

Whitney Thomas lives in the Canyon Hills neighborhood on Traverse Mountain.

“It could have been detrimental to the entire neighborhood,” she said.

The frantic moments of the last summer are still fresh, and Thomas said they are again worried about the fire danger.

“Our front yard was really smoky, and then we came out back and could see it curving all the way around on this side of the hill, and so that made us really worried that this would all light up, too,” she said while standing in her backyard.

Thomas evacuated from her home that night and said, unfortunately, fireworks continue to be an issue.

“It’s a bummer that we have to continue to police each other and that people so easily forget how upsetting that was to leave your home and not know if you were going to come back to something that was still there,” she said.

Craft said any land north of State Route 92, also known as Timpanogos Highway, has always had fireworks restrictions, but that enforcement remains a problem.

“We still saw people lighting fireworks in the banned area days after the fire,” he said.

“I think for a lot of us, we’re still extra sensitive whenever we hear fireworks,” Thomas said.

The hope is that the newly installed signs will be highly visible and alert people that fireworks are prohibited in the area.

“We’re really glad we finally have official signs,” Thomas said.

The area’s population is rapidly growing and Craft said it’s important to spread the word about the fireworks rules to new residents.

“Our fuel moistures are even lower this year than they were last year making those fire fuels even more explosive,” Craft said.

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