While Blaine County business operators hope that the Fourth of July weekend provides a COVID-recovery bang, fire officials are hoping to keep the typical holiday “bangs” to a minimum.
Hot and dry conditions throughout the region have prompted fire chiefs and firefighters to envision that bans on the use of fireworks keep them merely on the watch and not on the front lines.
This week, Sal Palazzolo, wildlife habitat manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, encouraged the public to recreate responsibly over the weekend.
“One person’s negligence can close down a large area for the year, destroying critical habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities … and the livelihood of property owners,” he said.
On Friday morning, the Sawtooth National Forest—now in “very high” fire danger—will move into Stage 1 fire restrictions to offset wildfire risk. Stage 1 restrictions prohibit campfires, smoking within 3 feet of vegetation, and throwing cigarettes—or other lighted materials—on the ground. Campfires may, however, be started in certain campgrounds if specified by signage.
As of Thursday morning, fireworks had been banned in all Wood River Valley cities except Sun Valley. The Sun Valley City Council was scheduled late Thursday afternoon to vote on a fireworks ban that excludes professional displays. Fireworks are also banned in unincorporated Blaine County and on federal BLM and Forest Service lands.
The fireworks bans passed by Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Blaine County officials have made it illegal to discharge any consumer-type fireworks in those jurisdictions. Illegal fireworks include bottle rockets, skyrockets, firecrackers, mortars, Roman candles, fountains, ground spinners, missiles, smoke bombs, parachutes, sky flyers and even sparklers.
Enforcement has already proven to be difficult. Around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, bottle rockets were reportedly set off in the 2800 block of Warm Springs Road in Ketchum, but “no one was found upon officer arrival,” Ketchum Police Chief Jamie Shaw told the Express.
Other fire restrictions that currently apply in Blaine County include:
• In Ketchum, it is illegal to start campfires or outdoor wood fires and to smoke near vegetation.
• Exploding targets are prohibited in Blaine County and on all BLM-managed land.
• Open agricultural burning is banned in the Wood River Fire Protection District in southern Blaine County.
Nonetheless, Wood River Valley residents and visitors will be able to take in the spectacle of fireworks in the night sky. The city of Hailey made an exception to its fireworks ban to allow its annual Fourth of July display. The professional fireworks show will start at dusk on Sunday, July 4, from a site near Wood River High School, on the east side of town.
In addition, Sun Valley Resort has scheduled a fireworks show at the end of the Sun Valley on Ice skating event on Saturday, July 3. The event at the Sun Valley outdoor ice rink is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m., with the fireworks show starting immediately after its conclusion.