Silverton July Fourth fireworks plan fizzles

No word from Durango, Vallecito or Bayfield

The annual Silverton fireworks show, touted as the best Fourth of July display on the Western Slope, has been canceled this year.

“It would have been the 28th year,” Gilbert Archuleta, chief of the Silverton Volunteer Fire Department, said Tuesday. “But the fire danger is too extreme.”

In banning private fireworks this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper on June 14 said municipal or professional displays are allowed with written permission from the corresponding county sheriff.

But even so, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and fire officials decided it was too risky, Archuleta said.

“An additional concern was the governor’s executive order that said if an approved fireworks display causes a fire, local officials should not expect state money to help fight the fire,” Archuleta said.

La Plata County Sheriff Duke Shirard said Tuesday he will sign an order today allowing entities that have professionally run fireworks programs with firemen standing by, or firefighters themselves, to have fireworks displays.

City Manager Ron LeBlanc said there’s been no decision about whether to have fireworks in Durango.

In Montezuma County, Cortez will have fireworks at Parque de Vida starting at dusk.

Bayfield administrators and Upper Pine Fire Protection District pyrotechnic experts were scheduled to meet late Tuesday to resolve the fireworks issue, Ryan Orendorff, the town’s assistant director of parks and recreation, said.

Orendorff said the town has announced on signs around town that there will be fireworks at the high school. But the decision isn’t final.

Vallecito Fireworks Coalition member Judith London said the organization wants to have fireworks but is awaiting authorization.

London, who’s been involved in the program for 12 years, said fireworks have never caused an anxious moment because they’re launched over the lake.

The town of Ignacio doesn’t sponsor firework shows.

Silverton’s fireworks show draws spectators from far and wide, even from out of state, San Juan County treasurer Bev Rich said.

She doesn’t think cancellation of the display will affect the economic impact or the influx of visitors it brings.

“This was short notice,” Rich said. “People have plans in place and already have their vacations booked.”

All other Fourth of July activities will go ahead as scheduled, she said. The parade, the International Rhubarb Festival and the water fight between local firefighters and Hermosa Cliffs firefighters are still on, Rich said.

“We’re 20 degrees cooler here than a lot of other places, and there’s no smoke,” Rich said.

daler@durangoherald.com

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