Uncertainty looms over July 4 fireworks celebrations | TheUnion.com

Uncertainty looms over July 4 fireworks celebrations

With hundreds of fires blazing across the state and dry conditions in western Nevada County, the fate of Independence Day fireworks at the fairgrounds is hanging in the balance.

Organizers of the patriotic festivities are concerned about fire hazard in the area and will discuss whether to proceed with planned celebrations at a special meeting Friday, Mary Anne Mueller, CEO of the Nevada County/Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday.

“At this point, we have not canceled the fireworks and the activities at the fairgrounds,” Mueller said. “We are planning to open the fairgrounds at 3 p.m. on July 4 with all kinds of entertainment, crafts and food. It will all culminate in the fireworks at 9:30 p.m.”

But parking could be a problem if members of the incident command center for the U.S. Forest Service continue to camp by Lions Lake, fairgrounds CEO Ed Scofield said. The firefighters are overseeing the response to the 25 fires sparked by lightning in the Tahoe National Forest late Sunday.

“The idea of using a shuttle (for the public) is being considered,” Scofield said. “The fireworks are still scheduled. But at this point, we don’t know. It depends on what goes on.”

“We have to have a certain amount of space clear for the fireworks,” said Cathy Whittlesey, executive manager with the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce. “But we are in favor of the firefighters being there, if they need to be there. That is more important than the July 4 celebrations.”

A discussion between the fairground authorities and the Forest Management about “the ability to co-inhabit on July 4” is likely, said Spike Newby, battalion chief with the Nevada County Consolidated Fire Protection District.

Newby wasn’t sure whether those discussions had taken place yet, Newby said.

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

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