Even more wildfires were reported during Independence Day than previously thought.
According to Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian, a total of 20 wildfires were reported in Sweetwater County the evening of July 4, 2017. An email Bournazian sent to County Commissioner Wendling and read during the Commissionerâ€™s meeting initially indicated 17 fires were reported.
All 20 of the wildfires were reported within a four-hour period.
Bournazian expressed gratitude to those who followed the law and utilized fireworks in a safe way.
â€œAs the Sweetwater County Fire Warden I would first like to thank the great majority of our county residents who used caution and common sense in their use of fireworks in their celebrations of the founding of our great country on the evening of July 4th, 2017,â€ Bournazian said in a release.
Bournazian had a few words for those who put firefighters at an elevated risk by lighting fireworks near dry grass and brush.
â€œYou are very lucky that no one was injured or killed last night,â€ said Bournazian.
Bournazian said fighting wildfires at night is a dangerous job, and doing so with fireworks continuing to go off overhead makes it even more risky.
The high amount of fires created such a challenge that area fire crews ran out of wildland fire engines that could get to the fires. Crews then had to risk larger apparatus in their place in an effort to control the fires.
About 19 fire engines and more than 70 firefighters, both paid and volunteer responded throughout the night into the early hours of the morning to ensure that all the fires they could reach and suppress were completely out.
The magnitude and scope of the amount of wildfires started by fireworks this Fourth of July has not been seen in Sweetwater County in many years.
Starting at about 9:00 p.m. the fire departments of Sweetwater County, Sweetwater County Fire District #1, Green River, Rock Springs, Rock Springs BLM, Ashley National Forest, Wamsutter and Little America were rapidly being dispatched to multiple wildfires caused by fireworks. This immediately began to exhaust most of the departments and agency resources as they not only responded engines and crews to these fires but at the same time had to each maintain to their best of abilities a crew and engine for other emergency calls.
No injuries or accidents occurred for any of the firefighters who responded.
Bournazian expressed thanks to the citizens who took action to the best of their abilities and to law enforcement agencies and federal partners.