Fire department officials remind residents that aerial fireworks are illegal while Greenlee County has fire restrictions since May.
Duncan Fire Chief Hayden Boyd said smaller fireworks that don’t go airborne are still allowed within the town. Any type of flying aerial fireworks are illegal in Arizona.
Boyd said Duncan does not grant burn permits from June through August each year.
“This helps us so we’re not chasing after these preventable fires in the hotter months,” he said.
Although Boyd said it is an unpopular decision, the town will not hold its July 4 fireworks display if there isn’t rain. At least a quarter-inch has to fall over the next couple of weeks before he said the town can move ahead with a display.
Last year, the town’s fireworks sparked several fires, which the fire crews had to go and put out and end the display early. This year, if the town can’t hold the display for Independence Day, the fireworks will be used at the fall Duncan High School homecoming game.
Morenci is following in the footsteps of the county, said Fire Chief Duane Turner. Fireworks that shoot into the air are prohibited, while the smaller fireworks that stay on the ground are still dangerous potential fire starters.
“It is so dry right now that any little spark can cause a fire, so any fireworks right now is a bad idea,” said Turner. “Especially sparklers. I know they’re fun to hold in your hand but the stick is so hot you drop it in the grass, or the sparks hit the grass on the ground. A blackhead firework on the ground could light a spark.”
These firework restrictions are not without warrant, Turner said. Last year, during the Independence Day celebrations a resident caught a yard on fire because they were using fireworks. The heat from the fire melted the side of the house.
Turner said the Sheriff’s office determines if a citizen will receive a citation for starting fires illegally or use fireworks. The drought has been going on for years, and he said the fire restrictions have been continuous for the past several years during summer.
“Please think about your neighbors and neighborhoods,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep everyone safe.”
Derek Rapier, Greenlee County administrator, said fire restriction resolutions are typically adopted whenever the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management imposes fire restrictions. The resolution strictly prohibits any type of open burning in any unincorporated areas of the county.
“As for fireworks, we have not specifically adopted restrictions above state law with respect to fireworks. As for fireworks displays in the unincorporated areas of the county, there has typically only been a single display in Morenci,” said Rapier. “A representative of FMI, which sponsors the display, will attend our June 22 meeting to outline their plans for this year and to seek the board’s approval of the firework’s show.”
Rick Varela, Clifton Fire Department chief, said there have already been several small brush fires around the outskirts of the city. However, he doesn’t know if they were started by fireworks. Like Morenci, Clifton is following the county’s lead and is imposing fire and aerial fireworks restrictions.
“This is probably the driest I have ever remember seeing it. If people choose to use fireworks, we will probably have fires, unfortunately,” he said.