Fire department, police prepare for annual fireworks, festivities

As Independence Day approaches, officials are closing in on final preparations for the annual celebration of the country's birthday. Craig Fire/Rescue members are ready to set up the fireworks that will be set off on the evening of the Fourth of July.

The fireworks will be shot from the field to the south of Moffat County High School. Ninth Street will be closed west of Finley Lane during the display, said Roy Mason, Chief of Craig Fire/Rescue.

"We are basically having the same deal as last year," Mason said. "We're going to dig the holes for the tubes during the morning and place the stainless steel tubes for the fireworks. Then, we'll have the Fire Department picnic at Loudy-Simpson around noon, hang out and throw some horseshoes.

"Later we'll have our safety briefings and get organized to head back to the hill, which we'll do around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. that evening. We'll then get set-up and hang out until the sun goes down."

The fireworks display should be visible from most of the town, with the possible exception of Ridgeview, the communities to the north and behind the Sandrocks.

"Pretty much anybody who can see the high school from where they are will be able to see the fireworks," Mason said.

Several Fire/Rescue engines will be at the launching site, since the whole department is needed to ensure the safety and success of the fireworks display.

The display cost $11,000, with the bill split between the city of Craig, Moffat County, the Fire Department and donated funds. Fire cadets will be at the high school during the holiday display to collect donations toward next year's celebration.

The Craig Police Department is also preparing for a busy holiday of fireworks.

"Technically, all fireworks are illegal under city codes," said Lt. John Forgay of the Craig Police Department. "What we have stuck with over the years is that we will ticket for anything with a loud report or that flies into the air. We pretty much allow visual fireworks spinners and sparklers for example things that aren't a big risk."

The police department interprets the law this way to allow people to enjoy themselves, but there "is a good level of danger to these things" that people need to be aware of when using them, Forgay said.

Police officers will respond to any complaints of airborne fireworks or loud reports. The infraction is a Class A ordinance violation, which is punishable by a minimum $75 fine and a maximum $300 fine. The charge could also carry a 15- to 90-day jail sentence.

"If there is a situation where a fire is started, and the problem is damaging enough, people could face more serious charges of arson and reckless endangerment," Forgay said. "We take these incidents seriously because of the risks of injury or property damage. It's not just an issue of shooting off fireworks when it's not allowed."

Forgay encourages those who do use fireworks to follow basic safety precautions, supervise young children who are using fireworks and sparklers, and "use common sense" around these explosives.

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