It was no surprise that many 4th of July firework celebrations were cancelled last year. But while COVID and reducing gatherings were the main reason, Arizona’s massive 2020 wildfire season also added to concerns. Although Arizona’s current wildfire season has already seen multiple largescale wildfires throughout the state, local municipalities have announced their plans for Independence Day firework shows.
While certain events won’t allow in-person gatherings, local governments such as Oro Valley are continuing their partnership with fire departments to ensure the shows are as safe as possible.
The Town of Oro Valley already hosted a fireworks test launch in early June. Although Oro Valley won’t be hosting an in-person event, they will be using larger fireworks shells, which can be seen from greater distances. The fireworks will be launched from Naranja Park, 810 W. Naranja Drive, beginning at 9 p.m. and will last roughly 20 minutes. If you still can’t see the larger fireworks from where you are, the Town of Oro Valley will also be hosting a live stream of the event from their social media. The Oro Valley 4th of July fireworks are sponsored by Lisa Bayless with Long Realty, a veteran real estate agent who has specialized in the Oro Valley, Marana and Catalina Foothills area for more than a decade.
The Town of Marana plans to have an in-person event for their 2021 Star Spangled Spectacular, which will include food vendors and music in addition to the fireworks at 9 p.m. Marana’s fireworks will be launched near the Crossroads at Silverbell District Park, 7548 N. Silverbell Road, where the event is taking place. While Marana is authorizing a public gathering, town staff will still be following CDC guidelines. Food vendors include The Curry Pot, Ro’s Rollout American Comfort Food, Smokin Monster BBQ, Roadrunning Wood-Fired Pizza and more.
For downtown Tucson, the popular “A” Mountain fireworks are returning for their 24th annual celebration, sponsored by Desert Diamond Casinos. For more access to the fireworks, the City is allowing free parking at the Tucson Convention Center’s Parking Lot B (off Cushing Street between Granada and Church avenues) or Parking Lot C (off Granada between Broadway Boulevard and Cushing Street). Free parking will also be available all day Sunday at the City/State garage and at meters throughout the downtown area. However, due to the fireworks display, there will be restricted access to Sentinel Peak Park throughout the weekend. The eastbound exit ramps at I-10 and Congress, I-10 and Starr Pass, and the westbound I-10 exit ramps at Silverlake and Congress will be closed from 9-11 p.m. to ease congestion. Fireworks will begin at 9:15 p.m.
Although local fire crews work closely with towns and cities for a safer firework celebration, household firework celebrations pose a risk, especially in states like Arizona. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 20,000 fires started by fireworks were reported to local U.S. fire departments in 2018. These fires caused five civilian deaths, more than 40 civilian injuries, and more than $100 million in direct property damage.
“Airborne fireworks are illegal in Arizona, so anything that leaves the ground can get you in trouble,” said Tucson Fire chief Chuck Ryan. “Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby in case of a fire. And always douse used fireworks with plenty of water before throwing them away.”
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, four of the five largest current wildfires in the nation are in Arizona. These include the Telegraph Fire east of Phoenix which has burned 180,000 acres, the Backbone Fire near Payson which has burned 40,000 acres, and the Pinnacle Fire outside of Safford which has burned 34,000 acres. The only wildfire in the top five not in Arizona is the Johnson Fire just next door in New Mexico.