Ouray Fire Chief Trevor Latta released the news at around midday on Wednesday, a day after his department battled a lightning-sparked blaze south of Ouray near Ironton Park.
“After a great deal of research, consultation, and consideration, the Ouray Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD) regretfully has canceled the 2013 July Fourth fireworks display,” he stated.
“The OVFD understands the importance of our fireworks display to both Ouray and its local merchants. The department made every possible effort to execute a safe show this year; however, given the current conditions in and around the area, the OVFD feels that the potential risks to Ouray and its citizens outweigh any benefits.”
Other Fourth of July activities in Ouray will continue as scheduled, including a parade at 10 a.m., kids’ games in Fellin Park at 11 a.m., and water fights on Main Street at 2 p.m. among other activities. There will also be live music in Fellin Park from 3 to 6 p.m.
Traditionally, Ouray’s fireworks show is preceded by a flare parade, in which 4X4 vehicles snake down the last few switchbacks of Red Mountain Pass into Ouray, with flares attached to their fenders. This year, due to wildfire danger, the flare parade has been transformed into a “Glow Parade” instead. Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles with Christmas lights and other “glow in the dark” nonflammable materials. Glow sticks will be given out to participants as well. Line-up starts at 7 p.m. and the parade begins at dusk.
Kat Papenbrock, Operations Director of the Ouray Chamber Resort Association, took the news of the fireworks cancellation in stride. “Honestly, it’s unfortunate, but I really appreciate that they made the call for safety reasons, especially in light of yesterday’s fire,” she said. “The town’s safety is the most important thing, and it will be a great day, regardless. Maybe we can do a rain dance.”
Ouray is not the only town in the region which is foregoing fireworks this year. The Telluride Town Council voted last week to cancel its fireworks show, and Lake City has also opted to cancel its show. At press time, the Town of Silverton was still planning to go forward with its fireworks show, as were Montrose, Gunnison and Delta.
Latta waited as long as possible to make the call about whether to cancel Ouray’s show, hoping that weather conditions might improve. But if anything, the wildfire risk seems heightened following Tuesday’s string of lightning-induced blazes across the county.
Council members present at this Monday’s Ouray City Council meeting (Councilor Gary Hansen was absent) were united in their opinion that the fireworks show should be cancelled this year, but it was ultimately up to Latta to make the call.
Stage One fire restrictions remain in effect in the City of Ouray and throughout Ouray County. Restrictions apply to the use, sale or possession of fireworks for personal use, all campfires outside of designated campgrounds, open burning of any kind, and welding in unreasonable areas. Campfires in designated campgrounds are still permitted under the ban, as are charcoal and gas barbecue grills.