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Fireworks a concern as Arizona wildfires grow

fireworks july 4th AP
Posted at 6:30 AM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 13:24:49-04

As nearly two dozen fires burn across Arizona, fire officials worry upcoming plans to celebrate the Fourth of July could threaten areas near the Valley.

"Resources are stretched extremely thin," said Cave Creek Deputy Fire Chief Jim Ford. "If we end up having more fires or more incidents, we’re not going to be able to get the resources that we need there for those fires."

The town of Cave Creek is now under a Stage 2 fire restriction, according to town officials, citing extreme fire danger. Town officials say no fireworks are permitted for use under the restriction.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Actively burning wildfires in Arizona

"Everybody thinks the fire is not going to happen to them, they go out and they use them they don’t clear the area first of brush and all it takes is a spark and then it’s going to be off and running," added Ford.

Fire officials say if you're looking for a way to see and enjoy lights in the sky this holiday, the safer option is attending events held by city officials.

READ MORE: Where to celebrate Independence Day, see fireworks around the Valley

While Cave Creek is not hosting a Fourth of July show this year, as they've chosen to do for several years, other cities like Mesa, Gilbert, Peoria, Surprise, and more are moving forward with scheduled events, after many were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Baxley, Cave Creek's Chief Building and Fire Officer, says the town hasn't received any applications for permits for any fireworks shows ahead of July 4th, and hopes residents learned the dangers of hosting events on their own.

"There are citizens starting to understand that the fires last year, just one sparked can totally turn this tinderbox into eight, something that we don’t want to see again," said Baxley.

Last year, nearly 1,000 acres were burned in and around Cave Creek by the Ocotillo Fire. Residents like Holden Kohrs says the flames nearly destroyed his home.

Fireworks safety tips ahead of July 4th

"I didn’t really think much about fires before this happened, but now I do," he said. “Although no one died in the Ocotillo Fire last year, there were still 13 houses burned down and people could’ve died had things gone a little differently.”

Arizona state law regulates the use and sale of fireworks. The City of Phoenix has published a list of permissible fireworks, as well as added restrictions on what is and is not allowed when handling fireworks.