A booming July 4 was a bust for firefighters

Do-it-yourself fireworks displays -- many illegal -- kept crews busy

The Independence Day fireworks celebrations around metro Denver were loud and boisterous -- many of them illegal -- and they kept local firefighters occupied.
After months of being cooped up by COVID-19 restrictions, and with major public fireworks displays canceled, people across the region let loose with a barrage of do-it-yourself July 4 rockets and noisemakers.
"This is what we feared, warned the community about and up-staffed 5 extra fire engines for," South Metro Fire Rescue tweeted late July 4. "Multiple fires are occurring across the South Metro area right now."
The morning of July 5, the agency released this tally of calls it had received since early the day before:
• 8 brush fires
• 6 outside fires
• 5 illegal burns
• 4 outside smoke investigations
• 4 dumpster fires
• 1 garage fire
• 1 house fire
"We’ve had eight fires caused by fireworks tonight," Lakewood-based West Metro Fire Rescue chimed in late July 4. " ... West Metro geared up for the 4th of July, putting more resources on duty, in case something like this would happen. Please celebrate safely."
West Metro later told KUSA-9News that about a dozen fires in its territory were linked to fireworks, including fires in grass, dumpsters and on a fence.
"We understand the frustration many of our community members are experiencing tonight due to use of illegal fireworks," Aurora Fire Rescue tweeted July 4.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office on July 4 pleaded with area residents to "not call our dispatch center to report hearing fireworks. The call center is getting overrun with these calls." It said people could call 911 to report actual fires.
Aerial views from a helicopter flown by Denver TV stations showed constant bursts of fireworks across the city that night.
In most areas of metro Denver, home fireworks displays were illegal July 4, either under existing permanent local ordinances in places like Centennial, Lakewood and Littleton or under temporary countywide fire restrictions.
Unincorporated Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson County were all under a Stage 1 fire ban prohibiting fireworks use.
On July 2, three Douglas County fireworks shows planned for the Fourth of July were canceled due to fire danger.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, who also serves as the county fire marshal, declared that the county was under fire restrictions. This action barred the shows, slated to take place in Highlands Ranch, the Pinery and Castle Rock.
Almost every other major public fireworks display usually held across metro Denver had already been called off, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic.


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