Eagle County officials warn about use of fireworks | VailDaily.com

Eagle County officials warn about use of fireworks

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
EDL fireworks KA 7-3-07

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – If your fireworks explode or leave the ground, you better think twice before you light them up this weekend.

With dry conditions leading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, local fire officials are encouraging people to watch the professional fireworks shows and leave it at that. Besides, state law bans just about every type of fireworks except for sparklers for personal use.

“With personal fireworks, it’s really simple – don’t do it,” Vail Deputy Fire Chief Mike McGee said. “Leave it up to the professionals.”

The Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit, which includes Eagle County, is forecasting moderate to very high fire danger over the holiday weekend.

“Conditions are not so extreme to warrant restrictions on campfires on public land, but the danger is growing and we could easily have wildfires this weekend if people aren’t careful,” said Bill Hahnenberg, Fire Management Officer for the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit.

Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Charlie Moore said that while there was a lot of snow this past winter, it doesn’t take long for the valley floor to dry out.

“It is getting dry and will be dry on the Fourth, so we have to urge caution this year,” Moore said.

There haven’t been any upvalley brush fires yet this season, but the danger is there, Moore said. A small spark could be enough to set something off, which is why fire officials are so serious about warnings over a holiday weekend that revolves around celebration and fireworks.

Barry Smith, Eagle County’s director of emergency management, said a few more hot, dry days could really raise concerns. Dry lightning is already a big concern.

“The fires in New Mexico and Boulder should be a good indicator that things will burn really quickly (once ignited),” Smith said. “Enjoy the public displays, but definitely no (personal) fireworks.”

With professional fireworks shows, done by licensed pyrotechnicians, McGee said there’s also a lot of behind the scene preparedness going on to make sure the shows are safe.

“We water the grass for 3 to 4 hours before we start,” McGee said.

And the shells exploding into the air by the professionals are flying as high as 600 feet up, not like personal fireworks that might go up a measly 12 or so feet.

“When (the professional fireworks) explode, the pieces tend to burn up before they hit the ground,” McGee said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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