Fire is one of the most destructive forces on the planet. It can level entire communities, destroy vast forests, and take the lives of the living things in its path. Therefore, when fire risks are high, everyone must do their part to prevent wildfires from occurring.
During this time, at Zion National Park, the risk of wildfire is extremely elevated. This elevated risk has resulted in the park putting fire restrictions in place until the risk has subsided.
It is always unfortunate when guests have restrictions put upon them while staying in Zion. It is something that park officials try to avoid and do not take lightly. To maintain the safety of the land and the guests, officials have determined that the following fire restrictions are necessary.
- There will be no campfires permitted in the areas with fire restrictions in place. This includes setting, maintaining, or attending a fire.
- Fires cannot be built with charcoal or other flammable substrate.
- Visitors may use grills with flames maintained by propane, butane, or white gas. These flames should be watched closely to ensure foreign objects do not catch fire and spark.
- Smoking is not to be done in areas with vegetation. This includes discarding cigarette butts out of car windows. These small embers can create an untamable blaze in a short amount of time.
- Visitors can smoke in their enclosed vehicle or in open spaces with no vegetation present.
- Smokers should always be aware of where their ashes and butts are traveling and should preferably put them out in an enclosed ashtray or extinguish them with water.
- The use of fireworks in park areas is always prohibited, but it is especially dangerous during this time. Leave all pyrotechnics behind when coming to Zion, as per federal laws.
These restrictions affect all campgrounds and open areas in Zion, excluding Lava Point Campground. It is important to be aware of surroundings to be sure that there are no open flames in an area that can easily catch fire. Following these restrictions is the best way visitors can help preserve the beauty of Zion and the safety of guests. Failure to follow these restrictions can result in a fine of up to $5,000.00 and/or twelve months of imprisonment.
Cause of Restrictions
The wet season in Zion, late winter and early spring, experienced high amounts of precipitation this year. This increased rain led to the fast and hearty growth of grasses and other vegetation. As conditions become dry and the temperature rises, this vegetation dries out significantly. Once light vegetation is dry, it is highly flammable.
Even a stray ember from a tended campfire could ignite a blaze that would ravage the entire area.
Since the vegetation is so dense and covers such a large area, a small fire would turn into a disastrous one very quickly. A fire on this grand of scale would put the lives of the guests and employees at Zion at a huge risk. Not only that, but it would also put local fire and rescue crews at risk. Following the simple fire restriction guidelines during a trip to Zion can prevent any unnecessary risks to visitors, employees, and rescue crews.
What Visitors Can Do
Guests of Zion play a huge role in preventing a devastating fire. Obviously, they can do their part by following the restrictions put into place by the park service. However, there are a few other things that visitors can do to ensure the safety of other guests and preserve the beauty of Zion.
See Something, Say Something
Visitors who see another guest disobeying the fire restrictions have a duty to report or help end this dangerous behavior. Some guests may feel comfortable politely reminding the person disobeying regulations of the current fire restrictions. It is possible for some guests to be unaware of the restrictions. By simply mentioning the regulations, the situation should be resolved quickly.
Avoid allowing the situation to escalate by simply walking away from a person who becomes combative. Report this to a park official.
Some may not be comfortable confronting another person. That doesn’t mean that they cannot help to ensure park safety. Anyone who sees someone disobeying fire regulations can find a park official to report the infraction. Park officials will then be able to handle the situation safely, without guests becoming involved.
Guests who see flammable debris or debris in dangerous areas can pick it up and dispose of it properly. For example, if a paper bag is blowing along the area, it is possible for this bag to pick up a spark from an area which allows smoking or fires and blow to an area with high vegetation. By ridding the area of free-flying debris, the risk of fire can be reduced. Even small contributions to the fight against wildfires make a huge difference.
In the off chance that a guest would stumble upon a wildfire starting, it is important that they know the basics of safely and quickly extinguishing the fire.
A frantic person cannot help to de-escalate a situation. It is important to stay calm when dealing with such a serious matter. Maintaining a level head will help when calling emergency numbers and assessing the situation.
Assess the Situation
If the fire has grown rapidly, is dangerous to be near, thick smoke is accumulating, or high winds are making it unpredictable, it is best to safely leave the situation and call 911 then alert park officials. Even when the fire may be just starting embers, emergency numbers should be dialed and park officials notified right away.
Proceed with Caution
If the area in question is no more than a few embers or a stray cigarette, it may be safely extinguished with water or dirt. Any flame that cannot be easily and safely stomped out should be left alone for trained professionals to deal with.
Prevent Fire Destruction in Zion
Following the fire restrictions and urging others to do the same is the best way to prevent destructive fires in Zion. This prevention will go a long way to saving the beautiful land, as well as the people, of Zion. A visit to Zion while following the fire restrictions can still be exciting and unforgettable. Enjoy a trip to Zion while preserving the gorgeous area for generations to come.