Garfield County’s fireworks use ban to now include 4th of July stretch
Garfield County commissioners have expanded a ban on the private use of fireworks in the unincorporated parts of the county to include the stretch of time leading up to and including the Fourth of July holiday.
Last month, the county took action to prohibit the use of fireworks, including those that can be purchased legally in Colorado, for the remainder of the year.
State law, however, excludes the period from May 31 through July 5, unless a county or municipality takes separate action to also ban fireworks during that time.
Commissioners waited until Monday before taking further action. With input from the county’s lead emergency management official and Sheriff Lou Vallario pointing to the increasing fire danger, commissioners agreed to put the ban in effect now through Sunday, July 5.
Several recent instances of small brush fires breaking out across the county are concerning, Chris Bornholdt, emergency manager for the county, said during the Monday commissioners meeting.
Those fires, including multiple ones in the Rifle area, were brought under control in relative short order, but removing fireworks as a potential fuel source as the fire danger increases would be helpful, he said.
“I’ve been amazed at the number of red flag warnings we’ve had recently,” Sheriff Vallario said of multiple recent dry, hot and windy days.
“The science definitely supports it,” he said of fire fuel conditions currently.
The county restriction applies to the use of fireworks by private citizens, but not the legal sale of fireworks in the county.
Also, any commercial vendors planning a fireworks display anywhere in unincorporated Garfield County (outside municipal boundaries) must receive approval from their local fire districts.
“Individuals should seek guidance from the municipalities in which they reside, regarding the use of fireworks within city limits,” according to a Tuesday press release from the Sheriff’s Office.
“These decisions were made considering the rapidly drying fuel sources, due to the high temperatures and high winds recently experienced in Garfield County; in conjunction with the limited availability of resources to fight an expanding fire,” the release stated.
The release also cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has necessitated extra firefighting precautions for the 2020 wildfire season.
Commissioners heard from one private fireworks sales vendor Monday, who disagreed with the decision.
“Don’t use COVID-19 as an excuse,” said Ray Cordova, who sets up a fireworks sales stand every year near Cattle Creek.
Cordova also said the ban causes confusion for prospective customers, since it applies to the use of fireworks, but not the sale.
The ban does not apply to the sale of fireworks considered legal in Colorado. However, anyone who purchases them is not allowed to used them anywhere a ban is in effect.
The broader Garfield County use ban extends through the end of the year, but could be rescinded at any time if conditions allow, Vallario said.
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