Thursday, March 5, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Drought won’t stop fireworks in dry western states

Fireworks Drought

In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, workers with Western Enterprises Inc. prepare a row of fireworks mortar tubes at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, N.M., for the city's annual Fourth of July festival. Officials in New Mexico and other drought-stricken states in the West are urging residents to attend public fireworks displays rather than light their own fireworks due to dry conditions and high fire danger. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

By
From page A8 | July 04, 2014 |

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Arizona’s largest city has gone four months without any measurable rain, and neighboring New Mexico is in the midst of four years of severe drought.

But you’ll still see and hear fireworks sparkle and pop during the days around July 4, despite the dangerously high threat of wildfires.

While some places in the West ban fireworks altogether, or greatly limit what you can light off when conditions are ripe for fire, other states are going in the opposite direction.

Arizona actually loosened its restrictions this year and is now allowing residents of the two most populated cities to set off fireworks in the days around Independence Day, and an effort by the New Mexico governor to impose tougher rules during dry times has repeatedly fallen on deaf ears in the Legislature.

Some lawmakers chalk it up to statehouse politics, while others say it’s politicians’ reluctance to impose more regulations and take away the cherished tradition of setting off fireworks, even in severe droughts.

Phil Griego, a northern New Mexico rancher and a Democratic state senator, said the pastures around his village are so dry that the grass crunches under the hooves of horses and cattle when ranchers move the animals from one field to the next.

Griego tried during this year’s legislative session to pass a measure that would have updated New Mexico’s fireworks laws to give cities and counties more authority to ban fireworks when fire danger is high. Political wrangling stalled the measure in the Democrat-controlled Senate despite bipartisan support from lawmakers, fire chiefs around the state and Republican Gov. Susan Martinez, who has been pushing since 2011 for changes to the law.

“This is critical because I don’t think this drought and this situation we’re in right now is going to pass any time soon,” Griego said. “For this year, it’s done and over, but we’ve got to start working on next year. We’ve got to have protections. Look at the fires that are taking place now with just lightning strikes.”

Arizona began allowing the sale and use of certain fireworks in 2010. This year, the state updated its laws to prohibit cities in Maricopa and Pima counties — which include Phoenix and Tucson — from banning the use of fireworks around the July 4 holiday. Previously, some cities in the area had banned fireworks, while others didn’t, resulting in much confusion.

The Phoenix Fire Department is placing trucks in strategic places around town so crews can respond to brush fires within minutes. City employees will also be monitoring popular hiking trails, looking for anyone trying to set off illegal fireworks.

“We’re trying to keep control on it,” said Glenn D’Auria, president of the Arizona Fire Marshals Association and a Tucson fire inspector. “It’s new for us. It’s not like back East where people grew up with it. It’s a new toy to play with out here.”

In Texas, legislation to give the state fire marshal the power to enforce stricter rules didn’t get far during the last session partly due to the lack of appetite among some lawmakers for imposing more regulations on small businesses.

Some places in the West do restrict fireworks heavily. In Utah, more than 50 cities and towns have imposed additional restrictions this year due to the fire danger. Some municipalities have banned all fireworks in city limits, while several have designated safe areas near fire departments or parking lots from which to light fireworks.

Utah lawmakers this year passed a measure giving counties the authority to restrict fireworks in unincorporated areas.

In California, not many cities allow for the sale and use of legal fireworks. An open burn ban began this week for millions of acres managed by California’s state forestry division. The agency said it has zero tolerance for illegal fireworks and will be patrolling over the holiday weekend given the drought emergency.

The same goes for Washington, where fireworks are banned in all of the biggest cities and in many other places. People in Seattle are prohibited from setting off fireworks within city limit on the Fourth of July or any other time.

From California and Arizona to New Mexico and Oklahoma, fire officials and elected leaders are encouraging people to attend professional fireworks shows instead of lighting fountains in their neighborhoods.

At a barren lot on the edge of Albuquerque, a team of pyro-experts with Western Enterprises Inc. was busy Wednesday dropping hundreds of shells into carefully aligned and wired launching tubes for the city’s annual fireworks show. Thousands of people were expected to attend.

Across town, Nathan Farmer was setting up dozens of boxed sets of fireworks at his roadside stand. Last summer, when the drought reached unprecedented levels in New Mexico, sales were down but he’s hopeful his sparklers and fountains sell this year.

Farmer said concerned citizens have in the past called the police on him, saying he shouldn’t be selling fireworks given the threat of wildfire.

Fireworks are like anything else in life, he said.

“If you give a person some money, a gun, a car or alcohol, it’s up to that person to be responsible with it,” he said.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Docs: No significant impact from tons of SF waste sent to Solano

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Show resilience in the face of adversity

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Real McCoy II Ferry set for maintenance

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police slate annual awards ceremony

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

Limited damage to apartment from carport fire

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Students sample industry choices during school career fair

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
National Red Cross Month celebrates heroes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Il Fiorello schedules citrus class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Jury convicts ex-con who served as own lawyer

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4

 
Red Carpet Gala to benefit theater foundation

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Pet remembrance event set in Vallejo

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Suisun police plan community meeting downtown

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

Friday concert benefits Families Helping Families

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield OKs $54,467 consultant pact after the fact

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Vallejo police arrest 4 in connection with 3 killings

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Suisun City police log: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Fairfield police log: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Woodland mom charged with manslaughter in death of infant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Justices sharply divided over health care law subsidies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

‘It was him': Defense admits Tsarnaev bombed Boston Marathon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More mutilated animals found in California’s capital city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California lawmaker pushes child care worker vaccinations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Children in Southern California breathing easier, study says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Failures by 3 governments preceded homeless man’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Second Los Angeles hospital reports ‘superbug’ infections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Obama signs Homeland Security funding bill into law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
House panel issues subpoena for Clinton’s personal emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Fossil jaw sheds light on turning point in human evolution

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Feds: Evidence backs Ferguson officer’s account in shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

A defiant Alabama regains ground against gay marriage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
How much sugar is in that? 7 foods with added sugar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Senate fails to override Obama’s veto of pipeline bill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Microsoft co-founder says he found sunken Japan WWII warship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Italy rescues more than 1,000 migrants at sea; 10 perish

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Coal mine blast kills at least 24 in war-torn east Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

.

Opinion

 
Headwinds at home drive Korea Inc. abroad

By William Pesek | From Page: A7

How can I be sick when I feel great?

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 5, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 5, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 5, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
I can’t tell if I still want to be married, or just don’t want to be alone

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Glen Campbell children fighting wife’s control of affairs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
DiCaprio partners with Netflix for series of documentaries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ tops MTV Movie Awards nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

 
Posey has 2-run double in Giants’ 9-2 loss to A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Local report: Vanden softball slips by Rodriguez with late run

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Curry shoots Warriors to 102-93 victory over Bucks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
MLS, players agree in principle to 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prosecutors can’t bring up Florida shooting in ex-NFLer case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vikings agree to trade Cassel to Bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Scott opens a season of change at Doral

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘It WAS him': Defense admits Tsarnaev bombed Boston Marathon

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

With Peterson’s status in question, Vikings pay a visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL stadium supporters in LA suburb file ballot paperwork

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Alex Johnson, AL batting champ in 1970, dies at age 72

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Goodell: NFL responsible for Super Bowl seating problems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Former player Nate Jackson calls for NFL to allow marijuana

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Phoenix to install tire barriers before NASCAR visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pirelli sticks with same tire choices for first 4 F1 races

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Source: Peyton Manning returning for 18th NFL season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NCAA reports big jump in home runs with new flat-seam ball

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Aaron D. Malave

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Thelma A. Roche

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Cesar Luis Garcia-Regalado

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Rodolfo Landabora Porquez

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9