Bummed out by the fire ban? Depressed over dry conditions?
Despite Stage 2 fire restrictions throughout the county and the cancellation of this year’s fireworks show in Mt. Crested Butte, fire officials in Gunnison say the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display at Jorgensen Park is expected to take place as planned.
Assistant Fire Marshal Hugo Ferchau said the only thing that could change those plans is heavy rains or wind the night of the event — both of which can prevent the large mortars from discharging as intended.
“Otherwise, that’s an area we have pretty good control over,” he said.
Gunnison firefighters plan to utilize U.S. Forest Service sprinkler equipment to wet the meadow east and south of Jorgensen Park both the day before and day of the fireworks display.
Also, the fire department will have a couple engines on standby during the festivities, in addition to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport’s equipment.
“Come enjoy ours,” Ferchau said of the display. “We take all the precautions.”
After Gunnison County Commissioners enacted Stage 2 fire restrictions — which ban most open flames — June 14, Mt. Crested Butte Town Manager Joe Fitzpatrick notified the company that conducts the show that a cancellation may be in order.
Over the weekend that followed, the Gunnison Valley did see sporadic rainfall. Yet, it wasn’t enough to quell the danger, and Fitzpatrick made the tough call last Monday, June 18 to cancel the annual town-funded show at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
“It just isn’t worth the risk,” he said. “We’re too close to the forest.”
Since a mediocre amount of moisture over the weekend of June 16-17, the Gunnison Valley has remained dry — leading the Bureau of Land Management to enact Stage 2 restrictions for all of its Gunnison Field Office on Monday. The fire ban was already in place for a small section of the field office near Silverton.
With the ban now in effect for BLM property, all lands in Gunnison County outside of the City of Gunnison are currently under Stage 2 restrictions — including private property in the unincorporated county and the national forest.
Given the conditions, Gunnison County Emergency Manager Scott Morrill said he’s “just trying to reinforce the message that private fireworks are not a good idea this year.”
Assistant Fire Marshal Ferchau noted that a wildfire did break out Sunday west of Gunnison across from Neversink but didn’t grow beyond a half-acre in size before firefighters quelled the flames.
“They hit it hard and fast, which is good,” said Fire Marshal Dennis Spritzer.
However, he noted that no moisture is in the forecast for Gunnison in coming days — emphasizing that fireworks displays should be left up to professionals in a safe setting.
“We need rain,” Spritzer said.
For more informationon on fire restrictions currently in effect locally, visit www.gunnisontimes.com/content/stage-2-fire-restricitons-enacted on our front page.
(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)