BULLHEAD CITY — A long-time resident told members of the Bullhead City Council this week that use of fireworks within the city has gone out of control.
Sue DeMarco said people in her neighborhood last week shot off an array of fireworks — including illegal bottle rockets and other prohibited aerial pieces — for five days. The fire department needed to come out to her neighborhood, she said.
“There was a brush fire two doors down from me,” she said.
DeMarco added that she had trouble keeping her dog calm because of all of the loud booms, hisses and whistles.
“My dog almost had a heart attack,” she told the council members.
Some people who own dogs aren’t as diligent as they should be, said DeMarco, a founding member of Saving Animals In Need Together. The fearful animals run away because of the loud fireworks unless their owners are highly watchful, she said.
And, this year, the shelter was closed over the Fourth of July weekend. That meant some dogs were roaming the streets in the summer heat, she pointed out.
“We need to do something,” DeMarco stressed.
City Manager Toby Cotter responded to DeMarco’s concerns.
“The city has zero power to restrict sales of fireworks,” he said.
The Arizona Legislature made it legal to sell and set off permissible fireworks in 2010. Cities, including Bullhead City, had to update their fire codes in response.
Otherwise, “we would have never changed our code,” Cotter said.
Some jurisdictions allow sales and use of fireworks that may be prohibited in other jurisdictions, leading to an abundance of legally purchased but illegally used pyrotechnics.
In Bullhead City, fireworks that fly into the air or explode with a report — that is, go bang — generally are illegal.
Bullhead City allows for selling and use of permissible fireworks for two periods each year: One to mark annual celebrations of Fourth of July and another to usher in each new year.
Mohave County residents weren’t permitted to shoot off fireworks for Fourth of July because of a burn ban. Bullhead City returned to its own burn ban rules as of July 6.
Extremely dry vegetation, heavy fuel loads, wind and extreme temperatures necessitated the burn bans enacted this spring.
The city received several complaints about use of fireworks. Of the 132 calls the Bullhead City Fire Department received from July 3 through July 5, there were 18 for brush fires as well as three each for dumpster fires and smoke investigations.
The Bullhead City Police Department wrote one citation for use of aerial fireworks, the department said.
DeMarco said she was willing to create a petition to change the code. Cotter, however, said it would be better for those who want to see a change in allowed use and sales of fireworks to focus on getting the attention of state legislators.
“There were more fireworks than ever before,” Cotter added.
Part of that might have been residents’ response to the cancellation of planned professional fireworks displays.