DENVER -- The threat for more fires across the Front Range is starting to grow just days away from the Fourth of July holiday in Colorado, and what may seem like a small firework or sparkler this coming week could turn into a big problem with our state's current dry conditions and high fire risk. More than 50 percent of Colorado is in a severe drought with many restrictions and fire bans in place.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control has an interactive fire ban map where you can zoom in and check fire restrictions in each part of the state. Certain counties ban the use of fireworks all together and many cities have local bans.
Colorado law does not allow the use of personal fireworks that leave the ground or explode. Those include roman candles, rockets, firecrackers and cherry bombs. Some Colorado cities and counties allow legal fireworks. Those include ones that stay on the ground, including sparklers or spinning fireworks. Make sure you get rid of those properly. A sparkler burns at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily light clothing, plants, grass or bushes on fire.
The use of fireworks is always prohibited on Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest and National Park Service lands. If you use fireworks in an area with federal restrictions in place this week, violations can be punishable of fines up to hundreds or thousands of dollars and up to 12 months in prison, depending on a judge’s ruling. Anyone starting a wildfire can also be required to pay restitution for the cost of fighting it.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife released information stating Colorado is experiencing the third lowest snowpack on record, with only 2002 and 1981 being drier. Extreme drought has expanded to cover most of the southern half of the state, with the worst conditions being in the southwest corner. As of June 18, statewide snowpack at SNOTEL sites is 31 percent of average.