AURORA | Light ‘em if you got ‘em this year, Aurora residents.
Local fire officials on June 15 are expected to allow residents to use certain fireworks through July 4 as part of the city’s limited, annual allowance on celebratory pyrotechnics.
Since 2017, Aurora officials have allowed terrestrially bound fireworks to be sold and used in Aurora for the final two weeks of June and the first four days of July. Any devices that shoot into the sky, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles, remain disallowed.
More staid devices like sparklers have only been permitted in Aurora twice since local lawmakers lifted a decades-old ban on all fireworks four years ago. Fire Chief Fernando Gray issued edicts snuffing all fireworks use in the city in both 2018 and 2020 due to dry weather conditions.
The devices were last allowed in 2019.
Drought conditions across the Front Range have been largely ameliorated following an unusually rainy spring, though extreme drought designations still abound west of the Continental Divide.
Anyone found in violation of the city’s fireworks rules could be slapped with a fine of up to $2,650 and a jail sentence of up to one year.
Fire officials received 1,987 complaints of fireworks between July 1 and July 4, 2020, which marked a roughly 120% increase from the 901 such complaints received over the same time frame last year, fire officials said in public meetings last summer.
However, firefighters only responded to 151 of those calls in 2020, a monumental drop from the 1,613 responses in 2017, data show.
Complaints were also up in the weeks leading up to Independence Day last year, with a 1,676% increase in complaints when comparing the third week of June 2020 to the same time in 2019.
Residents are encouraged to call 303-627-5678 to report illegal fireworks between July 1 and July 5. The special phone line is set up in an effort to prevent clogging emergency dispatch resources.
Authorities pointed to pandemic-related restrictions as a partial reason why personal fireworks use exploded last year.
Aurora fire officials also blamed the lack of a city-provided fireworks display as well as regional protests that disrupted police response capabilities for a significant increase in fireworks-related calls in 2020.
After an outright cancellation last year due to the pandemic, Aurora will host its Fourth of July spectacular at city hall this year, though the gathering will differ slightly from previous years. Residents are encouraged to gather on the lawn in front of the municipal center beginning at 6 p.m., though there will be no vendors, food or music as there was in the past.
Mayor Mike Coffman previously tweeted that there would be no events at the municipal center, but a city spokesperson clarified that residents are indeed invited to watch the display from the building’s lawn.
The colored rockets will be launched from Bicentennial Park — just as they have been in previous years — and will be visible from several vantage points across the city.