GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Due to public safety concerns and increasingly dry conditions, the City Council decided Monday to cancel the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
The announcement came after Aspen’s City Council canceled its fireworks display last week.
“We’ve had such hot, dry weather that the fuels all around this region are extremely volatile,” said Gary Tillotson, Glenwood Springs fire chief. “Given the recent fires in the state and across the country, resources are spread pretty thin. Although we can minimize the risks, there is still some inherent risk.”
According to The Weather Channel, there was zero measured precipitation in Glenwood Springs during the month of June, and the area is currently under Stage 1 fire restrictions.
“We have been monitoring the weather for a few weeks now,” City Manager Jeff Hecksel said. “We really hoped the weather would improve with more rain and less wind, but the forecast hasn’t improved.”
In addition to unfavorable conditions in June, Tillotson cited the lack of rain in this week’s forecast as a significant factor in canceling the display.
“Things are getting drier every day with this hot and breezy weather,” he said.
Before Monday’s cancellation, the city had planned to launch the fireworks from a new location — a vacant lot northwest of Two Rivers Park and owned by Pitkin Iron.
“All of the vegetation on that site continued to get drier and drier, and it started to become too much of a risk for launching from that location,” Tillotson explained.
In past years, the fireworks have been launched from the parking lot of the Glenwood Springs Community Center, but ongoing construction of the Glenwood Meadows housing project made that location unavailable.
The city’s contract with the vendor allows for a rescheduled fireworks display, which must take place within one year of the cancellation date. Tillotson said the postponed performance will likely occur sometime this winter.
“One of the factors involved in canceling is telling the public, ‘Don’t use your fireworks,’” Tillotson said. “We don’t want to give the impression that we can do it, but you can’t. Fireworks are dangerous, and we really want to send that message.”
Hecksel agreed with Tillotson’s warning to the public, stating it was important to “impress upon people the risk of fire.”
This is the second year in a row that both Glenwood Springs and Aspen have cancelled their Fourth of July fireworks due to dangerously dry surroundings. According to Tillotson, last year’s conditions prompted Stage 2 fire restrictions in the area.
Last week, the Apple Tree Community in New Castle also canceled its Fourth of July fireworks display due to the environmental conditions and will be showing a movie in the park instead.
As of Monday evening, the fireworks celebration in Rifle is still scheduled to occur on Wednesday. The event was scheduled to take place in Centennial Park, with musical performances by the Symphony in the Valley orchestra from 8:30-9:30 p.m. and 10-11 p.m. Fireworks were to be launched from 9:45-10 p.m. and can be viewed from the park, but the City Council had not yet made a final decision about the pyrotechnics. They were scheduled to meet Monday night.