Alli Langley

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July 2, 2014
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Summit County sheriff says zero tolerance on fireworks ban

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office will have a zero-tolerance policy for people violating the statewide fireworks ban this holiday weekend.

“Spending the Fourth of July in jail, I’ve heard, sucks,” said Sheriff John Minor Tuesday. “If you can’t bail out, you don’t get to see the judge until Monday, and it’s a long weekend.”

According to state law, use of fireworks that fly or explode is punishable by fines. That includes bottle rockets and Roman candles.

“The best way to explain that is if it leaves the ground or goes bang, it’s illegal in Colorado,” Minor said.

He added that people often disregard the law, and just like Wyoming residents come to Colorado to buy marijuana, Coloradans go to Wyoming to buy fireworks. Across the state border in Wyoming, the roads are lined with fireworks stands.

Some fireworks, like sparklers, toy cats and fountains, are legal and can be found for sale in Summit County.

But even those can start fires, said Jeff Berino, deputy chief of Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

“Sparklers burn at over 1,600 degrees,” he said. “We really discourage it, even the legal ones.”

The wildfire danger in Summit is currently at moderate, Berino said, “but it’s creeping up.”

Minor said the risk and potential damage in Summit is different from wildfires on the Front Range.

“Our community is in a forest,” he said. “These things are a terrifying phenomenon. We’ve just got to be cautious over here in the High Country.”

Anyone who causes a wildfire is liable for property damage, which Minor said could add up to millions of dollars. Neighbors should talk to one another, he said. “It’s their property too.”

Commercial fireworks displays, which have firefighters standing by, are exempt from the ban. Minor describe the Summit County shows as “very, very professionally done.”

With four commercial operations in Summit County this weekend, Berino said people should “leave the fireworks shows to the professionals.”

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The Summit Daily Updated Mar 25, 2015 02:56PM Published Jul 2, 2014 07:04PM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.