Skies over a scattering of western US towns will remain dark for the third straight 4th of July as some major fireworks are canceled again this year – some due to fire concerns forest in dry weather and others due to ongoing pandemic-related personnel and supply chain issues.
Phoenix canceled its three main Independence Day shows because it couldn’t get professional-grade fireworks. Shows in several other cities around Phoenix are still ongoing.
“Unless you’re in a really remote area where it was the only show, most people will be able to find a show nearby,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.
Overseas shipping, transportation to the United States, rising insurance costs and labor shortages have led to the cancellation of shows, as well as demand for fireworks during concerts, sports stadiums and the Fourth of July holiday that was largely absent in the first two years. of the pandemic, Ms. Heckman said.
“The demand is so high it’s almost like a perfect storm,” Ms. Heckman said, adding that not having enough crew to work the shows or hire trucks to haul the materials added to crisis.
China produces most of the professional-grade fireworks that shoot through the air and produce colorful, dazzling bursts of various shapes. The shortage lies not in manufacturing, Ms. Heckman said, but in congestion at US ports.
Ms. Heckman said some companies recently chartered a dozen ships, each carrying 200 to 250 containers of consumer fireworks considered hazardous materials, and shipped them to ports in Alabama and Louisiana to free up space in west coast ports.
Other cities across the country are shutting down exhibits due to the threat of wildfire. Flagstaff in northern Arizona will perform its annual Independence Day Parade in the city’s historic downtown, but a new laser light show will replace the standard pyrotechnic display.
Three large wildfires have swept through the mountain town this spring alone, prompting hundreds to evacuate, shutting down a major highway and destroying some homes.
“The decision was made early because we wanted people to be able to make plans with their families,” said City of Flagstaff spokeswoman Sarah Langley.
Many local jurisdictions have banned the use of fireworks amid a punishing drought, even with an early start to the annual rainy season that has already brought flooding to the southwestern United States. Fireworks are still prohibited in state forests.
A popular fireworks display in the northern San Joaquin Valley that in pre-pandemic times brought tens of thousands to Lake Don Pedro, California, has also been canceled due to security concerns. drought, including projected low lake level.
“The safety of our guests and being good stewards of the lands entrusted to us are our highest priorities,” Recreation Agency Don Pedro said in a statement.
Lompoc on California’s central coast and Castle Rock in Colorado have canceled their fireworks shows due to concerns about wildfires. Still, an Independence Eve fireworks display with live music from the Colorado Symphony is scheduled for July 3 at Denver’s Civic Center Park.
In New Mexico, the most destructive wildfire season in modern history won’t stop major cities in that state, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, from hosting supervised 4th of July fireworks. firefighters.
The Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks display without giving a reason.
Elsewhere in the United States, some cities in North Carolina have canceled exhibits after a recent fireworks-related explosion killed a man on a small farm and a large cache of fireworks was destroyed in a related fire.
In Minneapolis, a fireworks display on the Mississippi will not take place due to staffing shortages and construction at a nearby park.
Those planning to light consumer-grade fireworks like bottle rockets, firecrackers, and ground-level fountains at home can expect to pay more for them. The American Pyrotechnic Association estimates that costs have increased by 35% in the industry.
Firefighters in some cities are concerned that cancellations of community displays could prompt some people to step up their use of consumer fireworks.
“We are generally concerned about exposure from sparks and fire to houses and dry brush,” said Phoenix Fire spokesperson Capt. Evan Gammage. “We get so many calls at this time of year.”
This story was reported by the Associated Press. Writers AP Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this story.