“It was as much a political decision as it was a safety decision. Rather than allow for all this build up and then cancel at the last minute, we just decided to call the thing off. We just don’t need any more public heat right now.”
— Byron Willems, Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board president
The Fourth of July fireworks show, the future of which had been up in the air for several days because of dry conditions ripe for fires, has been canceled in Craig and Moffat County.
The Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board corresponded Saturday by phone and email to discuss the annual celebration.
Board members reached the conclusion that the show isn't worth the risk.
“It’s so dry out there we just decided a fireworks show wasn’t worth potentially starting a large-scale fire,” fire board president Byron Willems said.
No other elected officials or public safety officers participated in the discussion, Willems said Saturday.
But, the fire board president said the decision to cancel the annual Independence Day celebration wasn’t solely based on public safety.
Fire officials have been under public scrutiny the last several months over plans to build a live fire training tower.
The tower at the originally planned location, Colorado Northwestern Community College's Craig campus, would have been the first phase of a second fire station.
However, the CNCC Board brought the proposal to a halt by not moving forward with a land transfer.
The training tower, and by all indications just the tower and not the second station, is now being developed on fire department property on Industrial Avenue.
“It was as much a political decision as it was a safety decision,” Willems said. “Rather than allow for all this build up and then cancel at the last minute, we just decided to call the thing off. We just don’t need any more public heat right now.”
Officials are looking into whether the order placed for the fireworks, which are paid for with city and county funds, can be canceled.
If not, Willems said the fireworks would be stored in a safe place until Labor Day or Christmas for a fireworks show at that time.
Craig Mayor Terry Carwile said no alternate Fourth of July plans — for a concert or community celebration — have been set yet.
“That’s something I will certainly address with staff Monday,” he said. “I think that’s a conversation worth having.”
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.