The skies over a number of Western U.S. cities will remain dark for the third year in a row as some major fireworks displays are canceled yet again this year, this time due to fire concerns amid dry weather, as well as pandemic-related supply or staffing issues.
The city of Phoenix said it canceled three major Independence Day celebrations because it couldn’t get the necessary fireworks due to supply chain issues. Displays in several other Phoenix metro areas are still up and running.
Flagstaff, Arizona, will hold its annual Fourth of July parade through the city’s historic downtown, but a new laser light show will replace the traditional pyrotechnic display due to concerns about sparking wildfires.
In recent weeks, a wildfire skirted the mountainous city, while another burned further north, forcing hundreds of people to flee.
“We made the decision early so that people could make plans with their families,” said Flagstaff city spokesperson Sarah Langley.
Fire officials in some cities are concerned that the cancellations will lead to an increase in the use of consumer fireworks in residential areas.
“Typically, we are concerned about the exposure of sparks and fire to homes and dry brush,” Phoenix Fire spokesperson Capt. Evan Gammage said. “This time of year, we get a lot of calls.”
The most destructive wildfire season in modern history will not deter major cities in New Mexico, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, from holding Fourth of July fireworks displays under fire department supervision.
Many local governments continue to prohibit the private use of fireworks in the midst of a punishing drought that persists despite the recent arrival of summer monsoon rains.
Some national forests in the United States’ Southwest relaxed or repealed fire restrictions, reopening vast swaths of land that had previously been closed due to wildfire danger. In national forests, fireworks are always prohibited.
Cal Expo officials in Sacramento announced that there will be no fireworks display due to staffing and resource shortages. They are instead focused on the California State Fair & Food Festival, which will be held in the last two weeks of July.
The annual Fourth of July fireworks display in Lompoc, California’s central coast, will not take place due to concerns about potential fire hazards.
A popular northern San Joaquin Valley fireworks show that drew tens of thousands of people to Lake Don Pedro, California, before the pandemic was canceled due to drought concerns, including the lake’s projected low level.
“Our highest priorities are the safety of our guests and being good stewards of the land entrusted to us,” the Don Pedro Recreation Agency said in a statement. The fire danger prompted Lakewood and Castle Rock, Colorado, to cancel their fireworks displays. Still, a fireworks display with live music by the Colorado Symphony is planned for July 3 at Denver’s Civic Center Park.
The Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana, canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks display with no explanation.
Other towns in the United States canceled fireworks displays after a recent fireworks-related explosion killed a man on a small farm and a large cache of fireworks was destroyed in a related fire.
A fireworks display over the Mississippi will not take place in Minneapolis due to staff shortages and construction at a nearby park.