Hot and dry weather has led to a fire ban across the state. As the Fourth of July approaches, firework stand owners are wondering how they're going to survive the season.
Governor Hickenlooper signed the statewide fire ban last week. It bans open burning which includes campfires and fireworks use. It is not illegal to sell fireworks, however. So you can buy them, but not light them.
"There really is no place in Mesa County where it's legal to use fireworks," explains Andy Martsolf, Emergency Manager for Mesa County.
And that statewide fire band covers every county and city across the sate.
At Mountain Man Fireworks in Montrose, owner Aileen Logan says she understands the liability, but thinks a full ban isn't necessary.
"Most people understand fire danger and most people are reasonably safe with them," she said.
Logan is a volunteer firefighter and EMT for the Norwood-Redvale Fire/Rescue Department and says that in her experience, cigarettes pose much more of a danger than fireworks.
"(I've) never fought a wildland fire or a house fire or any fire that was started by a firework," she told us.
She says that it is difficult to sell fireworks to people when it is illegal for them to use them in the state and is concerned that the ban will drive those that would ignore the law to leave the city and use the fireworks in remote, wilderness areas where the fire danger is much higher.
Logan also worries that the ban will drive people to pursue fireworks out of state, where they can buy fireworks that are more dangerous and fire-prone than those normally allowed in the state of Colorado. Not only does that push tax revenue out of state, she says, but it also carries increased danger.
She thinks people should be allowed to light off fireworks within city limits, on surfaces like concrete or pavement where the danger is much lower.
With fire restrictions and bans in place, Logan says she has been warned that a few vocal opponents may pose a danger to her stand.
"I've put up a security fence around my building and I do have a dog and I am armed."
Half of the income that her and her husband take in every year comes from the stand and Logan expects to lose about a quarter of her business if the ban remains in effect through the holiday.
"I pray for rain every day since like six months ago when it rained last," she laughed, adding that you can always hold your fireworks until New Years. She says that they will not explode in storage.
Meanwhile, if you want to legally use your fireworks, you'll have to drive to Moab where fireworks are allowed within city limits. Utah officials say that fireworks are not allowed outside city limits, however, so you can't just cross the border and light them up.
Mesa County officials are reminding people that fireworks are illegal and those that violate will be fined and will also be fully responsible for any damage caused by the fireworks.
"What we're asking citizens to do is to be safe and comply with the restrictions that are in place and don't put firefighters and neighbors lives in jeopardy by using fireworks and increasing the risk of fire."