Eagle County fireworks shows are uncertain | VailDaily.com

Eagle County fireworks shows are uncertain

Current restrictions ban all personal fireworks use

Shooting fireworks over Nottingham Lake is no guarantee that Avon’s Salute to the USA show will go on this year.
Rick Spitzer/Daily file photo

The dry spring in Eagle County is stretching into a dry summer, and fire danger seems to increase every day. That fire danger may affect the valley’s fireworks shows and does affect use of personal fireworks.

Town officials in the upper valley are still evaluating conditions for Avon’s July 3 Salute to the USA and the July 4 show in Vail.

Avon Town Manager Eric Heil in an email wrote the town’s decision could some late this week or early next week. Avon has an advantage in setting off its show above Nottingham Lake, which gives a little more flexibility.

The fireworks show makes a huge difference in attendance at the Salute to the USA. A hot dry start to summer in 2013 forced town officials to pull the plug on the annual July 3 show. That year, hundreds, rather than thousands, came to Nottingham Park.

In Eagle, with town police and the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District currently working on the wildfire near Sylvan Lake, the prospects for the July 4 show aren’t looking good.

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Eagle show ‘unlikely’

Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter in a Monday email wrote it’s “unlikely” the town will move forward with its July 4 show. “It will take a lot of resources to deal with (the current) fire,” she added.

Eagle and Gypsum take turns hosting fireworks shows, and this was supposed to be Eagle’s year. Gypsum Fire Protection District Chief Justin Kirkland — whose Monday included coordinating resources for the Sylvan fire — said the location of each show presents different challenges.

Fireworks in Eagle are set off at the Eagle County Fairgrounds, a large, grassy area. That’s a bad idea in a dry summer.

While town officials are still evaluating conditions, Eagle County as of Monday was under Stage 1 fire restrictions. Tighter restrictions are imposed any time the county is under a red-flag fire weather warning.

Those Stage 1 restrictions ban all use of personal fireworks, even those usually legal in Colorado. State-legal fireworks include sparklers and snakes, along with other fireworks that don’t leave the ground or explode.

A high priority

Avon Police Chief Greg Daly said responding to fireworks complaints is a “high priority” for his department right now.

“We’re very concerned with fireworks and the potential for fire,” Daly said.

The same is true with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Spokeswoman Jessie Porter said that office is working as much as possible to educated the public about the current prohibition on fireworks use.

Police can only respond to reports, Porter said, adding that those caught using fireworks could potentially receive citations. And, she added, those found liable for starting a wildfire can be liable for the costs of fighting a fire.

Daly said his officers try to take a case-by-case approach when dealing with fireworks users.

People who seem to be “receptive” to education are likely to receive a warning, Daly said. People who are belligerent, or who turn out to be previous offenders, are more more likely to receive a citation, he added.

Daly is encouraging people to be as careful as possible.

“It’s scary out there right now,” Porter added.

Current restrictions

Eagle County is currently under Stage 1 fire restrictions. Those restrictions include a ban on:

All personal fireworks.

Any fires outside of permanently constructed fire pit, ring or grate on either private or public land.

Any use of explosive targets or incendiary (tracer) ammunition, both of which are always barred on federal lands.

Using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device.

For more information, go to ECEmergency.org and click on the “fire restrictions” tab at the top of the page.

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