Fireworks temporarily banned because of high fire danger

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- A long stretch of hot, dry weather has prompted fire officials to ban the use of fireworks ahead of Independence Day.

Castle Rock, along with unincorporated Douglas County, has issued Stage 1 fire restrictions, barring the use of all fireworks.

“When we went into Stage 1 restrictions, we were trying to look ahead for the Fourth of July hoping there would be some moisture coming in, but that’s not the case,” Castle Rock fire chief Art Morales said.

Jefferson County also has Stage 1 restrictions in place for areas west of Highway 93, west of C-470, and south and west of the intersection of Wadsworth Boulevard and C-470.

“These restrictions are being enacted due to current dry conditions favorable for the possibility of a wildfire, and limited availability of fire control resources. Please note the use of all fireworks are prohibited within the restricted area. Conditions will continue to be monitored and restrictions will be adjusted in the coming weeks as necessary,” a news release said.

Statewide, fireworks that leave the ground are illegal. Cities get to decide if they want to allow fireworks that are permissible in Colorado such as fountains, firecrackers and sparklers.

Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins have an outright ban on all types of fireworks. Castle Rock only allows the permissible fireworks to be lit on July 4.

But this year, city officials believe a rogue spark from a small firework could cause catastrophic damage.

“The calculations that we’ve run here lately show our fuel, if you were to put a little ember into the grass, will ignite 80 percent of the time,” Morales said.

Aspen has had to cancel its public fireworks display because of to high wildfire danger. No metro area municipalities have canceled displays yet.

“We actually pay a little more for fireworks that go higher so that they have more time to cool down so they’re not starting those fire when they hit the ground,” Morales said.

While fire restrictions are in place, fireworks can still be purchased. Fire officials are monitoring moisture levels daily and could lift the bans if weather conditions improve.

“The sale is still allowed because the vendors, this could all change and we could get soaked, and we don’t want to shut down their businesses,” Morales said.