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South Valley Journal

Incendiary video sparks fireworks discussion

Aug 30, 2017 04:50PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Mayor Bill Applegarth has proposed another annual city-led fireworks display on July 24th. (Riverton City)

By Mariden Williams | mariden.w@mycityjournals.com

On Aug. 1, Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth held an open discussion on the city’s fireworks policy, inspired by a smartphone video emailed to him by a resident. The short video, captured by a neighbor on July 26, 2017, depicts an adult lighting off some kind of flamethrower in the street in front of his house. The device shoots a massive gout of flame into the air; once the initial 30-foot plume dissipates, a long trail of fire momentarily burns, snakelike, along the surface of the road.

“It appears to me that this wasn’t a good idea,” said Applegarth. “I (visited the scene) very early in the morning, and there’s a scorch on that street there. I stomped on it, and it doesn’t seem to have weakened it there, but it’s not the best thing for our streets.” 

Though the jury-rigged combustible technically wasn’t a true firework, it still inspired Applegarth to examine the way fireworks are regulated in Riverton. 

“There are some things happening that are not tolerable in fireworks. The council, the mayor, the people, need to work together to improve the situation.”

Some of the issues discussed included property damage, littering, fireworks being shot at inappropriate times and the possibility of combat veterans with PTSD being triggered by the loud explosions. 

Applegarth made it clear that he was not angling to ban fireworks, aerial or otherwise; rather, he emphasized the importance of educating the public on the city’s existing firework policies. He proposed including a section on firework regulations in future copies of Riverton’s annual Town Days brochure. Theorizing that additional city-led activities might help discourage dangerous homebrewed stunts, he also suggested hosting an additional “lesser fireworks display around the 24th of July,” as well as the possibility of allowing residents to set off their own fireworks in public parks.

This last proposal was met with some amount of community interest. 

“This is an opportunity to take some of these bigger firework shows out of the neighborhood and bring them into a more controlled environment,” said Riverton resident David Hendrickson. “If you had a place for them to come, and had perhaps some type of competition, they could be watched over by the UFA, have a firetruck there to make sure it’s safe.”

Further discussion on Riverton’s fireworks policy has been tabled until the city’s next strategic planning meeting.