The night sky in Santa Fe won’t be filled with city-sponsored fireworks this Fourth of July, due to both financial constraints and heightened risks of wildfire.
But residents can still purchase some types of fireworks at grocery and big-box stores — and the loud booms of such devices already have been echoing throughout the city in the days ahead of the holiday.
The city and county fire departments are encouraging people to stay away from consumer fireworks this year. About 75 percent of the state remains abnormally dry or in some state of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the National Weather Service is forecasting more high temperatures throughout the week, with only a slight chance of thunderstorms Friday and Saturday. The conditions are ripe for wildfire.
Officials caution people who do plan to hold explosive Independence Day celebrations to use only legal devices and to ignite them safely.
“The Santa Fe Fire Department always wants our community to be safe,” interim Assistant Chief Brian Moya said in an email Monday. “During the 4th of July holiday, we encourage residents to refrain from using fireworks, but if resident[s] want to use them we ask they do so safely and use only approved fireworks.”
The city will have extra fire personnel working Saturday, Moya said.
The Santa Fe County Fire Department also will be fully staffed in preparation for any emergency.
Only a few kinds of fireworks are legal to use within city limits.
“Safe and sane fireworks are all fireworks that have no report, in other words do not make a ‘bang,’ are not self-propelling and whose display does not extend above fifteen feet (15’) in height from the ground,” the city said in a news release issued Monday.
Devices like Roman candles, cone-shaped fountains and any self-propelling devices that rise higher than 15 feet are illegal.
The city offered some tips on how to use fireworks safely:
- Only light one firework at a time.
- Light all devices away from people, houses and flammable material.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish fireworks.
- Never allow children to handle fireworks.
The state has a ban on the use of all fireworks on state-owned land. The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service also have bans in place.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order last week encouraging cities and counties throughout the state to ban the sale of fireworks because of drought conditions. But that didn’t happen in Santa Fe County.
County spokeswoman Carmelina Hart said Monday that because the county is not in extreme drought, officials will not prohibit all fireworks, but will “enforce the laws that are in place for illegal and legal fireworks.”
Still, the Santa Fe County Fire Department said in a statement it recommends residents avoid the hazards of lighting their own fireworks and instead “seek out professionally produced public displays, or some other means to celebrate our nation’s independence.”
While the city of Santa Fe has canceled its annual show, the statement said, shows are still scheduled in nearby cities, such as Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.