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Fireworks area again offered near Worland

WORLAND – In anticipation of the Independence Day holiday next week, the Bureau of Land Management Worland Field Office is again making a temporary, local exception to the fireworks ban on public lands. The use of fireworks will be permitted at a gravel pit northwest of Worland from July 4–7, 2019.

“The BLM is committed to providing a safe place on public land for people to use fireworks this Fourth of July,” said BLM Worland Field Manager Mike Phillips. “Our partnerships with the City of Worland, Worland Fire Protection District No. 1 and Washakie County enable us to provide an integrated approach to fire management, emergency medical services and law enforcement during the holiday weekend.”

The first gravel pit along the road to the landfill is a good location because the area poses a low risk of wildland fire occurrence. Fireworks use is permitted only within this gravel pit and not on the Fifteen Mile Road or gravel pits north of the landfill.

Portions of the gravel pit have been reclaimed and reseeded. These will be signed so that people can avoid these sensitive areas and allow for the re-establishment of vegetation. The public is also asked to properly dispose of litter.

As an extra precaution during the holiday week, the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Fire Crew will staff engines throughout the district to provide a quick response in the event that any wildfires are started by fireworks.

Worland Fire Protection District No. 1 will have crews on scene at the gravel pit during July 4-7.

Worland Fire Chief and Washakie County Fire Warden Chris Kocher said, “Things to remember are it is not legal to shoot off fireworks on federal lands outside the pit area that has been approved. It is also not legal to shoot off fireworks in city or county lands outside the approved area. If you do not own land out in the county, [the pit] is where you really should be shooting off at.”

Kocher said despite the “dustings of rain” the past few week, the cheatgrass is already curing and painting the hillsides purple. “There is a lot of fuels and a lot of growth,” he said, adding that a nice warm day with a breeze and grasses can cure within an hour. “Those fuels can be deceiving,” he said.

“As a precaution, we encourage people if they are going to shoot off on their own property in the county, do so in an area that is clear and void of vegetation. Have a garden hose or water source on site to pour water on spot fires,” Kocher said.

He also advises residents to call 911 early because it helps the firefighters knock down fires quicker if they can get to the fires in the early stages.

“We certainly encourage everyone to enjoy the Fourth of July,” Kocher said. He said on the Fourth of July the pits are usually very busy. If people are looking for more room they may want to wait and shoot off fireworks on July 5, July 6 or July 7, noting those days are not traditionally as busy.

Some other fireworks tips are not holding on to fireworks after they are lit. Monitoring children that are close by and do not immediately go up to fireworks that don’t go off.