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Aerial fireworks banned in Cottonwood Heights

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — The City of Cottonwood Heights passed an ordinance Tuesday night that bans residents from lighting off aerial fireworks in the city for the rest of the year.

The ban comes after a 25-acre fire damaged two homes, when it sparked from fireworks on the 4th of July.

Dozens of citizens filled the council chambers, with most giving public comment in support of the ban.

The room turned tense when one man who identified himself as Michael Hawkins said he was against the ban.

"I moved here for freedom and I want freedom," Hawkins said. "My vote is to keep it as is."

The crowd expressed frustration and the council had to quiet the group during and after Hawkins made his comments.

Most everyone else who spoke urged the council to pass the ban, saying that allowing amateurs to light off fireworks around the holidays will risk lives and homes.
"Please consider the long term impacts that a few minutes of fun blowing stuff up can have​," said Emily Weigel, who said her family lost everything when fireworks burned her house down.

The Schoeneck family also knows that pain. Their home was burned in last week's fire that authorities said began from a man's 4th of July aerial fireworks.

"I'm still trembling. I'm still trembling," Jodi Schoeneck said at the meeting, of the experience.

Her husband David Schoeneck said his wife and son could have died that night.

"We're a desert state, and we're risking lives," he said.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, Jr. said with the hot, dry conditions, aerial fireworks aren't work the risk-- especially as people celebrate the Pioneer Day holiday.

"While they appreciate the joy of celebrating the holidays, it shouldn't come at the expense of somebody's house burning down," Mayor Cullimore said. "We get that, and I think that is correct and aerial fireworks represent the greatest threat."

One thing residents told the council they hope happens with this ban: enforcement.

"What good does it do to make rules, if you don't do anything about it?," asked resident Chuck Willis.

Mayor Cullimore addressed those concerns, saying the city will do the best they can to enforce the ban.

The ban took effect as of the council's vote to pass it Tuesday night, and Mayor Cullimore said it will stay in effect until December 29.

He said it only applies to aerial fireworks. Ground fireworks are still OK for residents to light off.