JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The 4th of July was a dangerous one for Sweetwater County. Numerous wildland fires were sparked as a result of private pyrotechnics displays throughout the county, and Sweetwater County fire warden Mike Bournazian was not happy about it.
“[T]o those who carelessly and without concern for the safety of your neighbors and community and the dozens of firefighters you put at an elevated risk due to your lighting of fireworks in, and adjacent to, dry grass and brush causing one of our worst wildland fire events for the holiday in many years I say to you, ‘You are very lucky that no one was injured or killed last night.’ Fighting wildfires at night is dangerous enough. Doing it with limited resources and manpower all the while having fireworks still being lit off over our heads only makes it even worse,” Bournazian said.
Authorities responded to more than 20 wildfires within a four-hour period. Nearly every fire department and station house was busy.
“It was such a challenge that at one point we actually ran out of wildland fire engines that could get to these fires and had to start risking larger apparatus in their place in an effort to control them,” Bournazian said.
About 19 fire engines and more than 70 firefighters, both paid and volunteer responded throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning. It was one of the largest efforts Bournazian remembers seeing in quite a few years.
Trouble began at about 9pm when 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 began rapid deployment to multiple wildfires caused by fireworks.
“We are very fortunate that there were no injuries or accidents to any of the firefighters who went the extra mile in their efforts to protect and save lives and property,” Bournazian said.
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