Update: Fireworks investigator confirms faulty shell at fault in July 4 Grand Lake fireworks explosion | SkyHiNews.com

Update: Fireworks investigator confirms faulty shell at fault in July 4 Grand Lake fireworks explosion

July 7 — The fireworks supplier for Grand Lake's Fourth of July fireworks show confirms one faulty shell was responsible for an explosion that prematurely ended the show. "A shell misfired in one of the mortars (launching tubes)," said Bevery Snyder of J & M Displays in Yarmouth, Iowa, who visited Grand Lake on July 5 and investigated the scene. "It went off in the tube and caused all the other shells to go off at the same time. That's what caused the explosion," she said. In the fireworks business, misfiring of shells is something that can happen, for which people should be prepared at all times, Snyder said. That is why there are strict guidelines about distance fireworks crews are from mortars, in accordance with The National Fire Protection Association. According to Snyder, the Grand Lake fireworks crew was the proper distance away when the shell misfired, which probably saved lives. Because the Grand Lake Fireworks Committee didn't get its money's-worth for the $23,000, show on the Fourth, J&M will be supplying fireworks for the town's Constitution Week show on Sept. 20 free of charge, Snyder said. "The community will have a whole other display," she said. "We're sorry that it happened and certainly glad our people are safe and the community is safe, That is our goal — a beautiful display and a safe display," she said. July 5 — Grand Lake fireworks facilitator Chuck Barry stood on the edge of the Grand Lake town dock early Saturday morning, July 5, peering into the water at a sunken barge split in two. Tears welled in his eyes. It was a very close call, and he was thinking of his two grandchildren, he said. He showed a gash on his left leg, from flying debris during the explosion. He would be heading to the clinic momentarily. He was humbled by what happened, and expressed deep relief no one had been hurt. "My dad's an emotional wreck," he said. "He thought he lost his son last night." The would-be 20-minute Grand Lake fireworks show around 10 p.m. on July 4 was cut short to 12 minutes due to what Barry says were two or more "faulty shells." He and his employee Chris Toller, called a shooter, had been out on an axillary barge, managing the $23,000 show when things went awry and an explosion took place, destroying and sinking one of three fireworks barges located about 700 feet from the Grand Lake shore. A faulty shell had toppled over and set off the finale prior to the end of the show, Barry said. Barry said his team has a protocol of weeding out unsafe shells. They were in shock by what went bad. In the 35 years the Barry family of B&K Explosives has run the Grand Lake fireworks show, a near-accident like this has never taken place, he said. Chuck's father Ray Barry originally started the fireworks tradition in Grand Lake. Grand Lake firefighters were at the town's shore early Saturday assisting in hauling in equipment and working to locate a winch to remove the sunken barges. A fireworks supply representative was en route to investigate the mishap, according to Doris Braun of the Grand Lake Fireworks committee. Braun said she saw flashes of red light at the barge during the explosion. The committee likely would be reimbursed for the eight-or-so minutes of lost fireworks, she said. "This has never happened before. I know these guys here do everything right," Meanwhile, Chuck reiterated he was utterly grateful no one got hurt, and was feeling remorseful for all the folks who traveled far to see Grand Lake's popular show high above Colorado's largest natural lake. "I just hope they come back next year because it's going to be better," Chuck said. "I'm an emotional wreck right now."

Grand Lake looks to the future with fireworks program

The sky was just beginning to spit a wet spring snow as the Grand Lake Board of Trustees met Monday to discuss the future of fireworks projects in town. The topic has created contention in the picturesque mountain community where the annual fireworks displays are a point of local pride and a major feature of the economy. The issues stem from plans to relocate aspects of the display preparations to a different location on Grand Lake and plans to repair a floating barge used as a launching platform for explosives. At the beginning of discussions Grand Lake Town Manager Jim White started off by emphatically stating all parties involved in the discussions want the fireworks to continue. "This has been a great tradition for many years," said White. 2014 In 2016 the Grand Lake looked to address public safety concerns relating to the fireworks. During 2014's Fourth of July show faulty shells lead to an explosion that resulted in injuries for Explosives operator Chuck Barry and caused one floating barge carrying the fireworks to break apart and sink into the lake. The mishap could have been fatal for Barry and cut the show from 20 minutes to 12. After the incident B&K Explosives, which oversaw the fireworks shows for 35 years, was no longer contracted and a different contractor was brought on. That incident prompted a review of safety procedures. A decision was subsequently made to load fireworks onto the barges from the far off East Inlet instead of the L-Dock near the Town beach. 2016 In 2016 the Fourth of July fireworks were delayed an hour after the fireworks barge became swamped in shallow water. Last year was the first year the fireworks were loaded from the East Inlet instead of the L-Dock. After the barge became swamped Grand Lake Fire crews freed it using the Department's fireboat. After the topic was introduced by Town Manager White Monday night various stakeholders addressed the Board. Fireworks Committee members Doris Braun and Kristeen Burkhardt addressed the board first. Braun began her comments by saying the Fireworks Committee is for utilizing the East Inlet to load the fireworks. FIREWORKS COMMITTEE Bruan and Burkhardt outlined requests the Fireworks Committee had for the town. Among the list of items was funds from the town to help renovate the fireworks barge and a guarantee the dock system being built at the East Inlet will extend far enough out to accommodate the loading of barges. The Committee also requested the town provide a boat to tow the barge from the loading dock to the staging area in the lake and back to the dock after the show. BARGE REPAIR As discussion continued debate circled around Town contributions to the barge project. The Board was presented with different surfacing options, wood and steel, with different price tags, $10,000 and $15,000 respectively. The price of repairing the barge includes more than surfacing material but different materials produce the difference in cost. The wood surfaced option would required repair work within a few years. The steel option would have a lifespan of many years. During the meeting Mountain Paddlers owner Andy Murphy spoke. "At the last Board meeting I made a pledge of $1,000 to the building of the steel barge with a challenge to the business community," said Murphy. Murphy reiterated his challenge, asking the entire business community of the Grand Lake area to donate funds to the project. "My challenge is not that each business match the $1,000 but that the community as a whole covers the other $14,000 so we can do this for many, many years to come," Murphy said. "If every business gave $100 we could probably reach that goal." During the Regular Meeting the Grand Lake Board approved a motion to cover any outstanding costs associated with the barge repair work beyond what is raised by the business community of Grand Lake up to a total of $15,000. The Town will retain ownership of the barge after the repairs are complete. Additionally the Town approved $10,000 for construction of an extended dock at the East Inlet to accommodate the loading and unloading of fireworks onto the barge.

All Grand County towns cancel holiday fireworks shows

All commercial fireworks have been canceled in Grand County, including Grand Lake, Winter Park and Fraser, Granby and Kremmling, according to Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson. Fraser officials decided on Sunday to cancel that town’s Fourth of July fireworks; officials in Kremmling followed suit on Monday morning; and after a meeting among stakeholders, Grand Lake organizers decided on Monday to cancel that town’s Fourth of July fireworks show over the lake. Granby officials were the first to cancel that town’s July 30 fireworks last week. “There’s a high risk to start a fire,” Johnson said. “(Fireworks) are not a good enough reason to take that chance.” In Grand Lake, Fireworks Committee volunteers were busily collecting donations through the weekend. According to that committee’s chair Doris Braun, the fundraising will resume next weekend since the committee still needs to cover the cost of the fireworks under contract. The public fireworks show, which costs the committee $25,000, is being “postponed” until New Year’s Eve, Braun said. The New Year’s Eve fireworks show also takes place on the lake. And while fireworks volunteers collected dollars at Grand Lake’s intersection to support the show, another citizen was collecting signatures. Avis Gray, owner of Cascade Book Store in Grand Lake, can now breathe a sigh of relief after having already collected more than 100 signatures on a petition to cancel the fireworks in town due to fire risks. Although there will not be fireworks at the popular Grand Lake beachfront on the Fourth of July, there will still be activities, according to Braun, such as a lighted-decorated boat parade around 9:30 p.m., a DJ from 2-10 p.m. with a dance party, and an 8 p.m. costume contest. Fourth of July festivities in Granby, Kremmling and Fraser/Winter Park are also scheduled to go on unabated, just without fireworks.

New Year’s Weekend Fireworks in Grand County

Friday, Dec. 30 Hot Sulphur Springs – Opening Carnival Weekend: opening ceremonies and bonfire at 4 p.m. and fireworks display at 6 p.m. New Years Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31 Granby – Walking parade and torchlight ski down at Solvista Ski Basin starting at 6 p.m. Fireworks display at 6:15 p.m. at SolVista Ski Basin Winter Park – Sledding party from 7 to 9 p.m. in Hideaway Park; fireworks at 9 p.m. in Hideaway Park Grand Lake – Fireworks at midnight on Grand Lake’s town beachfront

Granby cancels June 30 fireworks

The Granby Chamber of Commerce canceled its June 30 fireworks show that was to follow the rodeo at the Flying Heels Arena. “We have decided to cancel,” said Granby Chamber Executive Director Laurie Findley, on Tuesday, June 19. “We just don’t want to be the entity that starts a fire.” The decision was made among chamber board members and upon consultation with Granby Fire Chief Dave Boyes, as well as the Grand County Sheriff, the Town of Granby and Flying Heels representatives, Findley said. Because the chamber had not yet signed a contract with fireworks company Stonebraker Rocky Mountain Fireworks, there is no penalty to the chamber for cancelling, she said. The fireworks company was understanding of the decision, Findley added. Meanwhile, as of Tuesday, June 19, Fourth of July commercial fireworks shows are still on for the Fraser Valley Sports Complex in Fraser, over the lake in Grand Lake, and from the cliffs in Kremmling. Winter Park and Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce is working closely with East Grand Fire to ensure safety and is monitoring weather patterns daily, according to Executive Director Catherine Ross. “So far, they have not told us we have to cancel them,” Ross said of fire officials. “We are waiting for rain.” Grand Lake Fourth of July Fireworks will likely be shot from the center of the lake, farther out than in years past, according to fireworks officials. “We’re still going forward with ours, just taking extra precautions,” said Grand Lake Chamber Executive Director Lisa Jenkins. But that doesn’t mean the fireworks, scheduled for 10 p.m. on the night of the Fourth, couldn’t be cancelled between now and then, she said, depending on fire conditions and weather. Same goes in Kremmling, where the annual fireworks show is scheduled for around 9:30 p.m. following the Fourth of July Barbecue and live band. The fireworks are sent into the air from the cliffs. Kremmling Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shannon Clark said she too is consulting with fire and town officials, and plans could “change at any time.” Meanwhile, a countywide fire ban on personal fireworks has been in place since last week. As late as press time on Tuesday, professional- and commercial-type fireworks sponsored by a sanctioned agency are still allowed under state, county and town fire bans.

Grand Lake pulls out all the stops for its fireworks show

Those looking for Fourth of July action this weekend wont be disappointed in Grand Lake, as thousands of tourists and locals flock to the town to view the fireworks display.Its a lot of fun probably the best time of the year, said Amy Divincentis of Granby. Each year Divincentis, 18, watches the fireworks from a boat with friends on Grand Lake. A La Mode Salon & Day Spa owner Annette Rayfeild plans on watching the display with family members on their boat.The fireworks are amazing, she said. I love it. A lot of my friends from Denver come too. The bars are fun.By 4 p.m. Thursday, bar and restaurant employees said they were already experiencing the start of the holiday rush. Were really busy, thats why its not the best time to talk right now, said a Pancho & Leftys employee.Ive got a line halfway out the door, said Ken Jensen, owner of Grand Lake Wine & Spirits.Fourth of July is our busiest day of the year, said Brad Taylor, Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce executive director. It is the largest display in the state Its Grand Lake at its best.All the towns campsites and hotels are booked.People that have rooms probably booked them several months in advance, Taylor noted.People not staying in Grand Lake for the weekend should expect traffic delays after the show, he said. The Grand Lake Fireworks Committee will present its annual Fireworks Extravaganza at 9:45 p.m. over the lake.Grand Lake Fireworks Committee Chairwoman and Treasurer Doris Braun said she is proud of the display and said it is probably the largest one in a mountain community. It attracts up to 35,000 people, she said.The display has been staged for more than 30 years, and Braun has been involved with it for more than 10 years. The committee will send $28,000 to $30,000 worth of fireworks skyward tonight.Braun said many people come to the town because it is a great show and well-known. Popular spots to watch the display include the beach and near Grand Lake Lounge.They watch from wherever they can see them, she added. Music also is played from Friday afternoon to about 11 p.m.We have a disco set up on the beach, Braun said. People are always really excited, she added. Theyre happy to be here and see the show.

Patricia D. Kennedy: The Grandest Fourth of all

It was a happy two-hour drive from our home in Lakewood over Berthoud Pass as we made our annual Fourth of July trip to the family cabin in Grand Lake. The grandchildren were bursting with excitement at the prospect of the fireworks. They had reason to be. Of all the Independence Day displays across the state of Colorado, the one along the shores of beautiful Grand Lake is possibly the most spectacular and memorable. Residents of Grand Lake Village, located at the foot of the Continental Divide and adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, spend countless hours fundraising and preparing for the fireworks, which are stunning. Two magnificent works of nature contribute to make this so. The presence of Colorado’s largest natural lake along with the surrounding mountains makes the display unique and draws thousands of visitors to experience this special night. The fireworks’ kaleidoscope of colors perfectly reflects on the broad expanse of water while the resounding echoes from the surrounding peaks provide the music for an impressive show. We usually walk to the village and the shoreline, but this year, because we had two toddlers in the group, we decided to climb the hill behind our cabin and view the display from the meadow above our trees. In the hour before the fireworks began we ate and reminisced about past Independence Days. When fireworks began the earth shook as the sky and the water glimmered and glowed. Young and old in our group cheered loudly to the bursts of color and the deafening booms. All of us shouted and clapped non-stop for the next hour. Later all was quiet, still, and very dark. At that moment a shooting star streaked across as we all stared up at the sky. Another cheer erupted. Our 12-year-old grandson said softly, “I just made a wish that on every Fourth of July of my life I can be here in this spot to see these fireworks.” The short trek down the hill to the cabin was filled with “It was awesome!” “It was grand!” “Yep,” shouted one of the little ones, “That was the most grandest of all!” Patricia D. Kennedy Lakewood

TODAY Fraser Valley Creative Writers – 10 a.m. Fraser Valley Library. 970-726-5689 Wednesday Workshops – 11 a.m. Devil's Thumb Ranch, Tabernash. 970-726-8231 Granby Rotary Meets — The Rotary Club of Granby is having its weekly meeting on Wednesday Jun 14, 2017. Our guest speaker will be Ray Jennings and the subject of the talk is: Memorial Lunch and Plaque for Jack Bakken. All Rotarians, as well as the general public, are invited. Maverick's provides a wonderful lunch for $12 but purchasing lunch is not required.Rotary meetings start at noon every Wednesday and are held at Maverick's Grille, 15 E. Agate Avenue in Granby. Call 970-887-9000 for more information. Presentation – El Navajo Lodge – 7 p.m. Grand Lake Community House. 970-627-8324 FRIDAY, JUNE 16 Summer Opening Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum – 11 a.m. at Granby/Grand County Airport-Emily Warner Field. Kremmling Days – This long-time tradition in Kremmling is a community celebration featuring Fireman Games, home-baked pies, live music, contests and much, much more. The weekend kicks off Friday evening with a concert in the park, and continues Saturday morning with a parade down Park Avenue. Rotary Bingo – 7:30 p.m. at Grand Lake Louie Heckert Pavilion. Disney's "Newsies" – 8 p.m. at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake. Call 970-627-3421 for tickets. SATURDAY, JUNE 17 Grand County Pet Pals Doggy Dash – 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Support the animals of Grand County. Walk or run, with or without your dog, on the over two miles of Granby Trails. Bid on the silent auction items. Enjoy the fun of being with your friends, two and four legged, and benefit the Pet Pals organization. Nature Hike – 9:30 a.m. at Grand Lake Golf Course Club House. Weekend Brunch at Volario's – 10 a.m. at Volario's. 970-722-1199 Summer Opening Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum – 11 a.m. at Granby/Grand County Airport-Emily Warner Field. Osborne & Key – 7 p.m. at Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser. 970-726-9250 Flying Heels Rodeo – 7 p.m. at Flying Heels Rodeo Arena in Granby. Rotary Bingo – 7:30 p.m. at Grand Lake Louie Heckert Pavilion. Disney's "Newsies" – 8 p.m. at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake. Call 970-627-3421 for tickets. SUNDAY, JUNE 18 Weekend Brunch at Volario's – 10 a.m. at Volario's. 970-722-1199 Osborne & Key – 4 p.m. at The Winter Park Pub. 970-726-4929 Redneck Mud Shuffle – 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Middle Park Fairgrounds in Kremmling. Spend the afternoon watching and cheering on contestants as they drive through a man-made giant-sized mud puddle. With a goal of driving through the mud course with a combined fastest time, contestants drive through once, and then again, reversing their order. Trophies are awarded to the top three winners of each of four classes. The Redneck Mud Shuffle is both a huge crowd pleaser and a successful fundraiser for the Middle Park Fair & Rodeo Royalty Scholarship fund. $10/general admission (kids under 5 are free). MONDAY, JUNE 19 Galactic Starveyors VBS – 9 a.m. at Hot Sulphur Springs Community Church. THURSDAY, JUNE 22 "Mamma Mia!" – 7:30 p.m. at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake. Call 970-627-3421 for tickets. SATURDAY, JUNE 24 34th ISC Annual Chili Cookoff – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Town Park in Grand Lake. Blues From The Top Festival – Located at 78821 U.S. Hwy 40, Winter Park. Presented By The Grand County Blues Society. (Dedicated to the memory of the late John Catt). Fraser River Valley Lions Club Annual Kid's Fishing Derby – 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Fraser. Annual Fishing Derby for kid's of all ages. Lots of prizes. Fun for all of the family. Enjoy a holiday weekend tradition. TUESDAY, JULY 4 Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza – Celebrate America with Grand Lake on Fourth of July. Consistently ranked as one of the best fireworks shows in the nation, Grand Lake Fireworks are not to be missed. Join in on the fun with fireworks, music and tons of local activities. Fireworks start at 10 p.m. regardless of day of the week. Lance Gutersohn's 4th of July Celebration – 6 p.m – 10 p.m. in Winter Park. An evening of free family fun with a magic show, face painters, live music and of course fireworks at dark to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, 2017 at Hideaway Park, downtown Winter Park. Fire Up the Cliffs – Kremmling. A small-town Independence Day celebration that begins at 6 p.m. in the Town Square with a BBQ dinner, home-baked pies, live music and games for kids, and ends with a spectacular fireworks display.

YOUR GUIDE: Festivities, fireworks, fun for the Fourth

The Fourth of July is quickly approaching and celebrations are springing up all over Grand County. The festivities begin Saturday morning with the Fly-In Breakfast at Granby/Grand County Airport and climaxes with the famous Grand Lake Fireworks Extravaganza. The county will fill with thousands of visitors ready to experience live music, festive food, readings of historical documents and much more. Sky-Hi News put together a preview of some of the events going on during the holiday, and a reminder about firework safety from East Grand Fire Protection District. Granby Fourth Fest Granby kicks off the weekend with the Fly-In Breakfast at Granby Airport starting at 7 a.m. The funds from the breakfast help to support a program which sends local children to aviation school. Later on Saturday the Flying Heels Rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed up by a fireworks display at the Flying Heels Arena. The big draw is the Granby Fourth Fest, which will take place at 11 a.m. July 4. "It's a really cool parade, and a lot of people get really excited to participate in it," said Kristy Aulicino, director of marketing for the Granby Chamber of Commerce. "We have a fly-over with the High Country Flyers, they do a really cool formation. There's lots of veterans there, it's a really cool time." The community parade will also feature classic cars, giveaways and a biker rally following up the parade line. This year's parade has a wild-west theme. A Celebration of America On Monday St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church is holding their annual Celebration of America program at 6:30 p.m. The event serves as a tribute to historical figures and major events in American history through readings, songs and speeches. "It's just a bunch of like-minded people who like to celebrate patriotism by reflecting on how we got here," said Lori Oury, one of the coordinators of the event. The non-religious, non-partisan program takes place in the church's sanctuary and features the reading of speeches by historical figures such as George Washington, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Susan B. Anthony. The celebration will also include patriotic, singalong music and performances by The Grand Chorale and Mountain Blends choruses. There will also be readings from historical documents including the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. "There'll be the story of the writing of the national anthem, and tributes to all kinds of patriotic historical events," said Oury. "You can just come in and sit down, and you can sing along if you want." Grand Lake's firework extravaganza The most popular Grand County celebration is the Grand Lake Fireworks Extravaganza, which will take place after dark on July 4, beginning at 10 p.m. "We work hard to make this happen, and we do a really awesome fireworks show," said Samantha Bruegger, executive director of the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce. "We have a ton of people in town, and lodging is all booked out. It's awesome; there's so many people here just to watch the show." Bruegger estimates that around 30,000 people showed up for the production last year, and says that lodging for the event in town usually books at least a year in advance. The fireworks are taken out on a barge and fired over Grand Lake itself. "A lot of agencies worked together to pull off what really is a giant firework show," said Bruegger. "It's pretty impressive to see them go off, and you can see them from different vantage points all around town." Live music will be playing throughout the town, including on the beach in front of the fireworks. Stores and restaurants throughout the town will also be open for shopping and dining. This year the city will be paying tribute to Doris Braun, who served as the celebration's fireworks fundraiser. The Grand Lake resident passed away on May 30. "Doris Braun passed away just a few weeks ago, and we know that this will be a huge tribute to her," said Bruegger. "She was our big fireworks fundraiser. She started all the fireworks and she's done it for years." There will also be an additional show on July 20 to commemorate the life of Braun.

Land stewards start Stage 1 fire bans

Persistent drought conditions might extinguish some residents' plans for an explosive holiday. U.S. Forest Service-managed public lands within Grand County have been placed under fire restrictions as of Thursday, June 27. Public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management will also enter into fire restrictions beginning Tuesday, July 2. And Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson said he plans on recommending a countywide ban at a special Board of County Commissioners meeting scheduled for Friday, June 28. The Sheriff expects the ban to go into effect immediately. "We try to do it all together – BLM, County and Forest Service – in order to give out a consistent message," Johnson said. The U.S. Forest Service and BLM bans are both Stage 1. Fires are still allowed in designated campgrounds, but prohibited in backcountry and undeveloped areas. Other restrictions include the use of fireworks or explosives, operation of machinery like welding torches and chainsaws, and smoking except within enclosed buildings or developed recreations sites. Similar fire restrictions are also in place at Rocky Mountain National Park. Sheriff Johnson expects county bans to be similar to last year's "first-level" restrictions, which prohibited open fires, use of fireworks and sale of fireworks within unincorporated Grand County. When considering fire restrictions, land managers study conditions in seven categories that measure vegetation's ability to burn, potential for fires to spread, impacts from current fires and projections for further drought or adverse weather. According to Johnson, Grand County meets four of the seven restriction factor categories, placing the area at high fire danger. The biggest concern is weather predictions and drought indicators. "The outlook appears to be poor with not much relief in sight," Johnson said. Restrictions are not anticipated for professional fireworks shows, like the Grand Lake and Kremmling fireworks on July 4 and the Granby fireworks at the Flying Heels Arena on July 6. "We want the fire danger to be at an extreme danger before we restrict those shows," Johnson said. "We're not as bad or as dry as the rest of the state right now." With a Rocky Mountain National Park fire that burned 600 acres still smoldering nearby, Grand Lake's plan to move forward with the fireworks show has caused some concern among residents, according to Town Manager David Hook. "We'll continue to stay in touch with the fire protection district, the sheriff's office and our other area agencies, then have a dialogue about whether to hold the fireworks or not," Hook said. "At this moment, yes, the fireworks are still on."