Feds advise extra firework safety on Fourth

Fireworks are never legal on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service land, but officials with both agencies are advising campers to take extra precautions this Fourth of July weekend.

In general, there are only a handful of fireworks-related fires on BLM land each year, said BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon, but this year Las Vegas-area firefighters are teaming with law enforcement to educate people on fire prevention.

“Everyone’s very vigilant right now,” said Forest Services spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski.

All of the federal land management groups are working together with enhanced patrols this week because of the heightened risk of wildfires, she said.

While they don’t have plans to enact what Kalkowski referred to as “active seizure sites,” anyone found on federal land with fireworks could face up to $5,000 in fines, six months in jail or both.

Last year, federal agents found three, 18-wheel trailers filled with fireworks.

In 2010, 24 citations were issued in the BLM’s Southern Nevada district, which spreads from southern Nye County to the western parts of the Las Vegas Valley.

BLM and Forest Service areas see more fires related to target-shooting than to fireworks, Cannon said. Exploding targets have become a fire issue, as well as steel-jacket ammunition, which sparks when it hits rocks.

Fire restrictions are in effect in five southern Utah and northern Arizona counties as well, and stricter, stage 1 fire restrictions are in place for Pine Valley, Cedar City and Powell ranger districts.

“The easiest way to explain stage 1 restrictions is that you’re OK to use anything with an on-off switch,” said Joe Harris, public affairs officer for Dixie National Forest.

Briquettes or open campfires outside of designated campgrounds are prohibited. Coleman stoves and fires in approved steel or concrete fire pits are allowed.

Oak Grove Campground, northeast of St. George, was closed early Tuesday morning until further notice because of the severe fire hazard that exists in southern Utah, as well as the limited access to the campground.

“It’s a long way up there to Oak Grove,” said Ken Henson, the fire management officer for the Pine Valley Ranger District. “If a fire were to start at the bottom, anyone in that campground would not be in a good spot.”

Wesley Juhl contributed to this report. Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @lauxkimber.