PHOENIX – The skies over a scattering of Western U.S. cities will stay dark for the third consecutive Fourth of July as some major fireworks displays are canceled again this year, this time for fire concerns amid dry weather, along with pandemic related supply or staffing problems.
The city of Phoenix said it canceled its three major Independence Day displays because it couldn’t obtain the necessary fireworks because of supply chain problems. Displays in several other Phoenix metro cities are still on.
Flagstaff in northern Arizona will carry out its annual Independence Day parade through the city’s historic downtown, but a new laser light show will replace the standard pyrotechnic display because of concerns about sparking wildfires.
A wildfire skirted the mountainous city in recent weeks while another burned farther north, prompting hundreds of people to evacuate.
“The decision was made early because we wanted people to be able to make plans with their families,” said Flagstaff city spokesperson Sarah Langley.
Fire officials in some cities worry that the cancellations could prompt some people to ramp up their use of consumer fireworks in residential areas.
“We are typically worried about exposure of sparks and fire to homes and dry brush,” said Phoenix Fire spokesperson Capt. Evan Gammage. “We get so many calls around this time of year.”
In New Mexico, the most destructive wildfire season in modern history won’t stop that state’s major cities including Albuquerque and Santa Fe from holding Fourth of July fireworks displays under fire department supervision.
Many local jurisdictions still prohibit the private use of fireworks amid a punishing drought that continues despite the recent arrival of summer monsoon rains.
Some national forests in the U.S. Southwest eased or rescinded fire restrictions, and welcomed back visitors to vast tracts that temporarily were closed because of wildfire danger. Fireworks are always prohibited in national forests
In Sacramento, Cal Expo officials announced they won’t have a fireworks display because of staffing and resource shortages. Instead, they are focused on the California State Fair & Food Festival to be held the last two weeks of July.
In Lompoc, on California’s central coast, the annual Fourth of July fireworks show won’t be held because of concerns about potential fire hazards.
A popular northern San Joaquin Valley fireworks show that in pre-pandemic times brought tens of thousands of people to Lake Don Pedro, California, was canceled because of drought concerns, including the lake’s projected low level.
“The safety of our guests and being good stewards of the land entrusted to us are our highest priorities,” the Don Pedro Recreation Agency said in a statement.
The fire danger also prompted Lakewood and Castle Rock in Colorado to cancel their pyrotechnic displays. Still, an Independence Eve fireworks show with live music by the Colorado Symphony is planned July 3 at Denver’s Civic Center Park.
The Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana, canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show without giving a reason.
Elsewhere in the U.S., some North Carolina towns canceled displays after a recent fireworks-related explosion killed a man on a small farm and a large cache of fireworks were destroyed in a related fire.
In Minneapolis, a fireworks display over the Mississippi won't be held because of staff shortages and construction at a nearby park.
AP writer Morgan Lee contributed to this report from Santa Fe, New Mexico.