Fireworks could soon fly in Aurora

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AURORA | City officials took another step toward making Aurora a fireworks-friendly city last week.

City Council’s Public Safety Committee voted to send a plan to the full council that would allow the sale, possession and use of certain fireworks. In general, the new rules would allow the same fireworks permitted in Centennial and unincorporated Arapahoe County, meaning anything that doesn’t explode or shoot into the air. Sparklers, fountains and ground snakes would be allowed.

Aurora fire Capt. Siegfried Klein, who drafted the new rules, said while they could result in more fires, officials hope they lead to a safer Fourth of July.

Instead of people hiding to light fireworks, hopefully they will do it out in the open and in a safer manner, he said.

He said the law would also be uniform with other jurisdictions, limiting the confusion that bedevils many revelers today.

Under the current rules, it’s legal to buy fireworks at several stands in unincorporated Arapahoe County — many of which sit just outside the Aurora line — but illegal for people to bring those legally-purchased fireworks into Aurora.

If some less-dangerous fireworks are legal, fire investigators would be able to focus their efforts on fireworks that explode or shoot into the air, he said.

“I believe it would allow for a more efficient enforcement of illegal fireworks,” he said.

The new rules also give the city a few opt outs. Even if the county sheriff has not instituted a fire ban, the city may do so under the new rules, Klein said, and that ban would bar the sale or use of fireworks.

If council votes in favor of the changes, the new rules would only be in place for three years before council would reconsider them.

In that time, Klein said the city could collect data and study whether allowing some fireworks resulted in more fires or not.

Aurora City Councilwoman Barb Cleland said that sunset is important to her, but she still worried that the measure could lead to more failures.

“I’m not real thrilled with this to be honest with you,” she said.

City Councilwoman Francoise Bergan spearheaded the change, arguing a ban that covers even sparklers goes too far.

If Aurora opts to make the change it would join Centennial, where the city council voted earlier this year to allow certain fireworks.

According to the city of Centennial, the new rules there allow residents to light sparklers, fountains and other fireworks that don’t violate state law.

Cracking down on fireworks around July 4 keeps police and fire investigators busy every summer. This year, fireworks caused 20 fires over the holiday weekend and the department wrote 23 summonses for illegal fireworks.

Most of the fires were limited to grassland or trees but fire officials said one blaze damaged two homes on July 5.