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Dry conditions put fireworks show at risk

UPDATE as of Thursday at 9 a.m. - The County Commissioners did implement a county wide stage 1 fire ban. It went into effect at midnight last night. The fireworks show in Thermopolis has been canceled.

A special meeting of the Hot Springs County Commissioners is set for Wednesday, June 30, when a proposal will be discussed to implement a county wide stage 1 fire ban. If the fire ban is approved, the Fourth of July fireworks show in Thermopolis will be canceled.

Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Collins said he is very confident the commissioners will follow suit with the US Forestry and BLM bans that are happening locally and around the state.

Stage 1 means no open flames, no campfires, no fireworks, etc. If the drought worsens and continues into the middle or end of July, they may move up into Stage 2. Stage 2 means they will close all campgrounds and add more restrictions.

Compared to previous years Collins said, “the fuel moisture is worse than what it’s been since 2000 or 1996.” For this year 2021 there has already been a large amount of fires in the greater region compared to previous years in their entirety. Normally the fire season doesn’t start until the end of July or early August. There has been a hope for rain in the area but the drought still exists even if there was drenching rain for many days according to fuel measurements.

The fireworks show scheduled for Saturday, July 3 at the marina in Boysen State Park is a go. According to marina officials, they plan to shoot off fireworks from their island, which is privately owned and surrounded by water. 

For last year’s fireworks show the Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department budgeted $13,500. However, Collins said for this year’s show they budgeted approximately $7,600 and they will carry it over and add it to the 2022 budget. Collins added that the suppliers for fireworks are also getting delayed in customs because of relationship conflicts between the USA and China. 

Both the Thermopolis Police Department and the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s office will be strictly enforcing the fire ban and the use of fireworks if the commissioners vote in favor of the ban.


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