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Weber County Commission's decision not to ban fireworks could spell disaster this 4th of July

LAYTON, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - He doesn't work for Weber County, but he lives there and Layton County Fire Chief Kevin Ward thinks the Weber County Commission is making a huge mistake by not calling for firework restrictions.
LAYTON, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - He doesn't work for Weber County, but he lives there and Layton County Fire Chief Kevin Ward thinks the Weber County Commission is making a huge mistake by not calling for firework restrictions.

"I'm appalled that given the conditions we have, the high temperatures, the low humidity, the fuel loading and the low fuel moisture, we certainly have some major potential for some major fires," explained Chief Ward.

In the past the Fire Chief of a district would be able to force firework restrictions in dangerous areas or during dangerous times, but with changes to the law and House Bill 289, the decision now rests in the hands of the governing body. For unincorporated Weber County, that means the county commission.

Chief Ward said, "I would hope they would defer to the opinion of the Fire Chief who probably knows best."

The Weber County Fire Chief is David Austin. Chief Austin tells ABC 4 Utah the commission did want to create firework restrictions, but only in certain areas of the county. He says it was the Utah State Forester who wouldn't allow it.

"They didn't feel it was necessary to shut down the entire county when our true hazard is the east part of Weber County," said Chief Austin.

Austin says the State Forester would only allow all of the county or none of the county, and so far, the commission has chosen none.

Chief Ward said, "I know there were comments made that 'we don't want to make any knee-jerk reactions' but is it a surprise that we're in fire season now?"

Chief Austin says he's concerned too and thinks the commission will eventually have to put in place a county-wide ban

"I would prefer not having fires or fireworks in that area, so the quicker we can move the better," said Austin.

That decision won't come in time for the 4th of July holiday. ABC 4 Utah tried reaching out to the commissioners, but none were available for comment.

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