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Breck fireworks fizzle

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – There will be fireworks in Breckenridge sometime within the next year, but they’re not going to be on the Fourth of July.

“I just think it’s the safest direction to go in,” said Carol Craig, events and communications coordinator for the town. “We had pretty much decided we didn’t want to do it. We didn’t think the Red, White and Blue (fire department) would want to, either.”

She was right.

Red, White and Blue Assistant Fire Chief Gary Green said he returned Thursday night from a fishing vacation in Ontario and noticed immediately how dry the conditions are.

“There is no safe place in Summit County to shoot fireworks,” Green said.

This is the second time in five years the town’s fireworks display has been cancelled due to extreme fire danger in the county. Frisco officials announced Thursday they were cancelling their display, one of the most popular in the area.

“We’ll reschedule it for another time, maybe in the winter,” Craig said of the Breckenridge display. “If we get monsoons and determine later in the summer it’s a great time to do fireworks, we’ll do it.”

Local fire officials suspected the cancellation might come to fruition. The little snowpack Summit County received this winter melted off about two months earlier than usual, and meltoff wasn’t enough to fill Dillon Reservoir.High winds and temperatures have exacerbated fire conditions.

Fire authorities say most fires in the High Country are caused by people who toss lighted cigarette butts from car windows, don’t properly extinguish campfires or who light fireworks. An illegal campfire has been tentatively blamed for the Hayman fire southeast of Summit County, which has burned almost 100,000 acres and forced thousands to evacuate.

“People cannot be careless at all,” Craig said. “That’s going to be a really big thing on the Fourth of July, with everyone having their barbecues, their parties. People need to be really conscientious.”

“How many days has it been since we’ve seen rain? And we don’t see the weather changing,” said town manager Tim Gagen. “We waited as long as we could. Everybody’s being cautious.”

“I think we did the right thing,” said Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula. “It’s in the interest of safety. The level of danger from fires is as extreme as it’s going to get. It will have an economic impact not to have the fireworks, but that’s all right. There are people who are suffering extremely in this state, and I think us crying over fireworks isn’t very worthy of us. I think safety certainly comes before that.”

Other activities, including the Fourth of July parade and the 2 p.m. Al DiMeola jazz concert at the Riverwalk remain scheduled, Craig said.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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