Fourth of July fireworks set for return to Steamboat Lake Saturday

Charles Toye was ready to help customers at the TNT Fireworks stand on Monday, June 27, 2022 in downtown Steamboat. The stand is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday through July 4, and has been selling fireworks around the holiday for more than two decades. Toye, a 2014 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, is a longtime employee and came back between teaching at the University of Colorado last year and returning to school this fall to pursue his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan.
John F. Russell/ Steamboat Pilot & Today

Fireworks are expected to return to the skies above Steamboat Lake on Saturday, July 2, after extreme fire danger nixed the celebration last year.

The show was canceled last year amid Stage 2 fire restrictions in Routt County that prohibited the use of any fireworks. At that time, the Muddy Slide Fire had been burning in South Routt County for almost two weeks.

But Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, the official who would recommend a fire ban locally, said he didn’t anticipate fire conditions changing significantly enough in the coming days that the show wouldn’t go on.

“Unless our conditions change really quick, I don’t anticipate that we will be under any more strict fire restrictions,” Wiggins said.

Julie Arington, park manager at Steamboat Lake State Park, said she has been in contact with both the Sheriff’s Office and the North Routt Fire Protection District about the fireworks and fire danger isn’t a major consideration at this point.

The only unknown factor that could impact the fireworks is the Rainbow Family Gathering happening on the Routt National Forest west of Steamboat Lake, Arington said.

“If there’s a big incident over there that takes all of the resources away from here, we may have to consider that,” Arington said. “That’s the only unknown factor.”

Friends of Steamboat Lake is providing the fireworks and they will be shot off from the small island in the middle of the lake, Arington said. The show will start just a little after dark.

The sign outside of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue’s Mountain Station showed fire danger is high on Monday, June 27, 2022.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

If planning to enter the park, Arington reminded visitors that they do need either a daily or annual parks pass. The campgrounds in the park are already full for the Fourth of July weekend, but there are several day use areas that will offer good views, Arington said. 

People also end up staying out of the state park itself, Arington said, and instead will often line the sides of parts of Routt County Roads 129 and 62 to watch the show.

“Personal fireworks are absolutely not allowed,” Arington said. “Our fireworks contractor is licensed and insured. They are professional so let’s leave the show to the professionals.”

By personal fireworks, Arington said she means everything, whether they are legal to use elsewhere in Colorado or not.

As there are no fire restrictions in place in Routt County currently, fireworks that stay on the ground and do not explode are generally allowed, Wiggins said. Products that go in the air like a bottle rocket or explode like a smoke bomb — items that cannot be legally purchased in Colorado — are illegal.

“The ones that are allowed are for sale at the stand here in town and probably at the grocery stores,” said Steamboat Fire Marshal Doug Schaffer. “The stuff that you can go to Wyoming and buy are not legal fireworks in the state of Colorado and shouldn’t be used at all.”

“No bangs, no booms, no travels, no mortars and not bottle rockets,” said Oak Creek Police Chief Ralph Maher. “You actually have to be able to control exactly where (the fireworks) are at any particular moment.”

While there are no fire restrictions, it doesn’t mean there isn’t fire danger. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Chuck Cerasoli said he recommends that people choose to celebrate without fireworks.

“We’re still in a drought and we anticipate that we’ll be moving into fire restrictions at some point this year, so my recommendation really would be to not use fireworks in general,” Cerasoli said.

Cerasoli said in addition to fire risk, fireworks also receive a lot of complaints from people in town, especially those who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or have dogs that struggle with fireworks. These calls generally span several days before and after the Fourth, he said.

“Our general approach at the fire department really is we recommend limiting the use to almost a minimalist approach, if you feel need to use them at all,” Cerasoli said.

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