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Gazette Premium Content No county fireworks ban expected for first time since 2011

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by EMILY DONOVAN emily.donovan@gazette.com - Updated: June 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm

For the first time since 2011, some El Paso County residents will be able to light sparklers to celebrate the Fourth of July. Thanks to this year's wet weather, El Paso County has not yet had to declare a burn ban, leaving some fireworks legal outside city boundaries. Anything with a fume or requiring a flame for ignition is illegal in Colorado Springs, Monument, Fountain, Manitou Springs and all of Teller County. Only trick noisemakers - snaps, champagne poppers and pull string poppers - are legal in those areas.

The Colorado Springs Police Department has a zero-tolerance policy and will deploy extra patrols for enforcing fireworks violations. The most common citation in Colorado Springs requires a mandatory court appearance with a maximum fine of $2,500 and/or 189 days in jail. If fireworks cause property damage or injury, the defendant can be charged for arson.

Sparklers, fountains, smoke bombs, ground spinners and small tanks with pyrotechnics are legal in El Paso County cities not listed above.

If it leaves the ground or explodes, it's illegal, said El Paso County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Gregory White.

Illegal fireworks - bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers and mortars - are brought in from out of state or bought by people with an out-of-state identification. El Paso County fireworks violations are a class 3 misdemeanors, which can result in $50 to $750 fine and up to six months in jail. Additionally, if an illegal firework causes a fire, the person who lit the firework may have to pay for the fire response, including Fire Department services and damage done.

White said fireworks users should be smart and safe with their usage. He recommended having a five-gallon bucket of water on hand to put out sparklers.

"Remember what's gone on the past couple of years," White said. "Is it really worth it to start a fire over a couple of fireworks on the Fourth of July?"

If a burn ban is issued, the sale and use of all fireworks would be illegal. A burn ban would be put in place if brush becomes too dry and flammable.

Based on current predictions, fireworks displays on and leading up to the Fourth of July should be approved.

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