WILLIAMS - Citing fire danger and the lack of a suitable location for the event, members of Williams City Council voted against holding a Fourth of July fireworks display in the city of Williams during their May 14 regular meeting. The decision came after members of both the Williams Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) and the Forest Service recommended against holding a 2009 fireworks display. According to Fire Chief Jeff Dent, a proposed location at the Williams Airport proved to be too risky.
"The biggest reason was just the area. We didn't feel we had enough room, to have enough area for the potential fallout. We looked at it with Forest Service fire officials and we agreed that if we did have a start in there it would be a tough area to contain one," Dent said. "There's requirements on the size of the shell and how much fallout area they recommend. We measure from the spot we're shooting to the radius that we have for fallout area."
While some of the fallout would have been within the airport grounds, some would fall outside the fenced airport area - an area fire fighters would have a hard time reaching.
A number of alternatives were discussed during the May 14 meeting, including the possibility of ground displays and laser light shows, though council members agreed that many of the alternatives might prove too costly to produce and not bring in the number of viewers that an aerial display would. Williams Mayor John Moore said the "good old days" of fireworks appeared to be over.
The biggest reason to cancel the 2009 fireworks display, he said, was the lack of a suitable location.
"We just didn't have a location that (the WVFD) felt was safe. Until we can come up with a better location, we just can't do it," Moore said. "One thing suggested was that we look at doing a fireworks display on the ground, which may be a workable thing, but this is the end of May. It gives us less than a month to get it together. Maybe we could do it next year. We should have made this decision, whether to have or not have, a couple months ago and we just now got to it."
He added that organizers have discussed holding a fireworks display later in the year, but said there are no definitive plans.
"We're certainly going to look at that," Moore said.
A number of other events are scheduled for Williams over the Fourth of July holiday, however, including a re-enactment of a 1909 historic Fourth of July photograph (see story on Page 2A), a Williams town social to include a Williams Rotary Club barbecue and a Methodist Church Ice Cream Social at the Williams Recreation Center from 1-5 p.m., a free swim at the Williams Aquatic Center from 1-4 p.m., and the renowned Fourth of July parade, scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m. Other events on tap include the dedication to the city's new "Gateway to the Grand Canyon®" city entry arch and the Railhead Shooting Competition at the National Forest shooting range.
The last time Williams held a fireworks display was in 2007. That year, debris from the fireworks ignited a small brush fire, later dubbed the Fourth Fire. Members of Williams City Council opted to cancel last year's fireworks display, citing the same reasons as this year, for their decision.