National News

Despite high fire danger, most fireworks shows around the state still scheduled

Posted June 23, 2018 11:19 a.m. EDT

— City officials in Flagstaff announced Friday an annual fireworks show is canceled due to high fire danger.

Despite 97 percent of Arizona under severe drought with plenty of dry fuel available, only a handful of communities across Arizona are banning the use of fireworks.

So are we putting our homes in danger?

Last July, a stray firework from a show in Desert Ridge sparked a brush fire that burned 20 acres.

"It went up like that. That fast," said Dan Farren, Phoenix Fire Department inspector.

Farren was there. He calls it a rare accident from a display run by trained professionals, but worries about the destruction the average person could cause.

"It's concerning that people are not being as safe as they could be. They're not being smart. We don't want you to use them, but if you're going to, be as safe as possible," said Farren.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist Mark O'Malley, the dry conditions are the worst to hit Arizona in 15 years.

"As everybody knows, many of the state lands have been closed for recreation and our fire risk is extremely high right now," said O'Malley.

Last week, Cave Creek opted not to hold its annual fireworks celebration. Mohave County and the community of Globe also banned fireworks.

But the majority of Arizona is not following suit.

According to Arizona Dept. of Forestry assistant fire marshal Joe Brant, it's up to local governments to make that call.

Why aren't more counties imposing fireworks bans?

"We're looking into that a little bit. We don't know if it's a lack of knowledge that they can do that, or if it's just other reasons, politically that they don't do it," said Brant.

Brant says last year, 42 fires statewide were caused by fireworks. He expects more this year.