City Council enacts fireworks ban

Debate ensues over fire department's July Fourth display

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Anyone in Craig who possesses, sells, or sets off any kind of firework from now until an emergency ban is lifted is subject to a fine of up to $300 and up to 90 days in prison.

The Craig City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to enact an emergency ordinance banning fireworks within the city of Craig. An exemption is made for the Craig Fire/Rescue annual fireworks display.

The original ordinance called for fines between $25 and $200 and jail time of five to 40 days. But Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said the penalties for violating the ban should be at least as stringent as those outlined in the city's regular ordinance, which only bans the use of fireworks that leave the ground.

"We need to make it as strict or stricter than our existing ordinance," Mayor Dave DeRose said. "I don't care if it's one kid setting of a little firework on concrete, we need to bust them."

The ordinance came under some debate when Councilor Natalie Alden said she didn't understand why there was an exemption for the fire department's July Fourth display.

"According to the paper, our fire department didn't want to go to Glenwood Springs to help because they were so concerned about the drought and the fire danger here," she said. "I don't understand, if they were so concerned, why they would take the risk of starting a fire here."

She said the commercial use of fireworks, which would include the Craig Fire/Rescue, should be banned.

Bill Johnston, a council member and assistant fire chief, said every possible precaution was being taken to ensure a safe public fireworks display.

"It's going to be safer than normal. There's been more planning in this than there was in the Persian Gulf War," he said. "We would not shoot fireworks if we thought there was danger of a fire."

The fire department will burn 700 square feet around the area where fireworks will be set off to burn off any fuel. Eight fire trucks, including trucks from the Bureau of Land Management and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department, will be on hand.

"We would not take any undue chances in shooting fireworks," Johnston said.

He also said that if firefighters were called to any other fires in the district, they would cancel or stop the show.

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