Despite restrictions, sparks should fly |

Despite restrictions, sparks should fly

Summit Daily file photo/Reid Williams The 2003 Fourth of July Frisco fireworks light up the town as seen from Mount Royal, showering sparks on boats moored near the marina.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County’s Fourth of July fireworks displays are safe for now, despite fire restrictions passed this week.Below average snowpack and drought conditions persist but are not as severe as in 2002, when both the county’s fireworks displays – in Frisco and Breckenridge – were canceled.”The fire danger is high right now, but it’s not anywhere near where it was in 2002,” said Jeff Berino, assistant fire chief for Lake Dillon Fire Protection District. Berino administers the July 4 display for the town of Frisco.

But the optimism is cautious – in Breckenridge, too.”At this point, we are still moving forward, but we’ll take into big consideration what the conditions are like closer to the event,” said Kim DiLallo, events and communications manager for the town of Breckenridge.Breckenridge won’t make a final call on its fireworks display until the week before the Fourth, DiLallo said. Breck relies on advice from Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District, police chief Rick Holman and town manager Tim Gagen.The safest location in the state might be in Frisco, where fireworks are shot from the shore of Dillon Reservoir behind Summit Middle School, and the debris falls into the water. So even if conditions worsen over the next few weeks, Berino expects a safe show.

“Every Fourth of July it’s dry,” he said. “The snowpack is below average this year, but we exercise extreme caution. We’re not going to shoot it if it’s not safe.”In fact, the town is beefing up its display this season, using, for the first time, a 16-inch shell – the largest being shot in Colorado this year, according to Berino.The piece is bigger than a basketball, weighs 100 pounds and shoots about 1,600 feet into the air: “It’ll leave you speechless,” he said.In the event of cancellation, Frisco would lose $7,500 of the $25,000 total cost for the show. It contracts with Western Enterprises of Oklahoma. Breck, which buys its show from Garden State Fireworks of New Jersey, has a clause in its contract that allows it to cancel the show for weather-related reasons at no cost.

At the time of the cancellations of 2002, several serious wildfires, including one in Evergreen and another in Glenwood Springs, were raging. Berino said Frisco probably could have had a safe fireworks display that year, but it canceled more out of respect for what was going on statewide.”Politically, it would have sent the wrong message,” he said.Jason Starr can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at

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