This file photo from July 4, 2016, shows the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display over Juneau. (Micheal Penn | Juneau Empire File)

This file photo from July 4, 2016, shows the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display over Juneau. (Micheal Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau’s fireworks show gets green light despite statewide ban

The show will go on.

The Gastineau Channel Fourth of July fireworks show will go ahead as planned, according to the City and Borough of Juneau.

It was unclear whether the show would be allowed this year following an order from the State Fire Marshal’s office suspending the use and sale of all fireworks due to increased fire danger.

According the Capital City Fire/Rescue, the show which occurs at 11:59 p.m. on July 3, will be allowed but with a “tremendous amount of scrutiny” and “is done by licensed pyrotechnicians.”

While the city’s show will be allowed, the personal use of fireworks remains banned until further notice. Capital City Fire/Rescue Chief Rich Etheridge said in a press release that, “We ask that people in Juneau adhere to the ban on personal use fireworks.”

Bonfires, or “open burns” will still be allowed but the fire department is asking that citizens use “extreme caution” when burning or grilling.

High temperatures and dry conditions have greatly increased the risk of fire in the run-up to the July holiday.

[How dry is our rainforest? Southeast’s rare drought could threaten plants, animals, your power bill]

“Although we live in a rainforest, the threat of wildland fire is a very real danger. We are in the middle of a drought and that changes the dynamics of our rainforest,” Etheridge said.

Wildfires in the northern part of the state have put strains on state firefighting resources. The Swan Lake fire in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge has grown to 88 square miles, according to the Associated Press, and an Air Quality Health Advisory was issued for Anchorage over the weekend.

In a July 1 report, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reported a total of 122 active wildfires throughout the state, with over 500,000 acres burned.

Despite the increased risk, event organizers are confident the show will go off without incident. Gary Stambaugh, co-chair of the Juneau Festival Association has been working with the fireworks show for 25 years.

The show is done “every single year the same way,” Stambaugh said. The fire department, “know exactly where we’re going to be,” and fireworks “shots” have been mapped out so that everything will be over the water.

In this file photo from July 3, 2017, Gary Stambaugh, center, leads a safety briefing with volunteers before the annual city-funded fireworks show in Juneau’s downtown harbor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this file photo from July 3, 2017, Gary Stambaugh, center, leads a safety briefing with volunteers before the annual city-funded fireworks show in Juneau’s downtown harbor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

“The event is well-choreographed,” Etheridge told the Empire, citing the extensive permitting process with multiple agencies that had to take place before the event was given the go-ahead.

The organizers also have a “fallout zone,” the area of about 300 yards surrounding the fireworks barge where they anticipate debris to fall, cleared by the Coast Guard and State Fire Marshal’s office. The barge and the tech boat from which the fireworks are controlled are equipped with their own fire-hoses in case of emergency.

In the past, event organizers have had to plan for rain delays, but Stambaugh said this is the first time he or any of his colleagues can recall a potential hold due to fire danger.

“This is a new thing,” he said.


• This is a Juneau Empire report by Peter Segall.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé students hold up signs during a rally along Egan Drive on Tuesday afternoon protesting a proposal to consolidate all local students in grades 10-12 at Thunder Mountain High School to help deal with the Juneau School District’s financial crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS students, teachers rally to keep grades 9-12 at downtown school if consolidation occurs

District’s proposed move to TMHS would result in loss of vocational facilities, ninth-grade students.

Deven Mitchell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., gives a tour of the corporation’s investment floor to Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, and other attendees of an open house on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. leaders approve proposal to borrow up to $4 billion for investments

Plan must be OK’d by legislators and Gov. Mike Dunleavy because it requires changes to state law.

Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, presides over a mostly empty House chamber at the end of an hourslong recess over education legislation on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empure)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers spend much of Monday in closed-door negotiations, plan to take up bill again Tuesday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces his proposed FY2025 budget at a news conference in Juneau on Dec. 14, 2023. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy proposes tax breaks for the private sector to address Alaska’s high cost of living

The Dunleavy administration’s proposal to address a crisis of affordability in Alaska… Continue reading

Lacey Sanders, director of the state Office of Management and Budget, presents Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s updated budget requests for this fiscal year and next to the Senate Finance Committee on Monday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Small changes in governor’s proposed budget could mean big moves for Juneau

New plan moves staff from Permanent Fund building, opening space for city to put all employees there

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Smokestack emissions into Fairbanks’ atmosphere are seen on March 1, 2023, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska legislators give closer look at bill aimed at storing carbon emissions underground

Bill could enable enhanced oil recovery, sequestration of emissions from new coal-fired power.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read