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Some Mountain West towns plan Fourth of July drone shows amid wildfire season

A group of people watch fireworks burst over Lake Tahoe and light up the sky at night.
Reno Tahoe Territory
Flickr Creative Commons
Instead of watching fireworks light up the sky over Lake Tahoe, as seen here, people in Incline Village, Nev., will see a drone light show this Fourth of July.

As wildfire season picks up, some communities in the Mountain West are trying to reduce fire risks. That includes finding new ways to celebrate America’s independence.

Incline Village in Nevada, for example, won’t have fireworks light up the sky this Fourth of July. Instead, the resort town on Lake Tahoe’s north shore will have a light show created by 200 drones.

The change comes less than a year after the large Caldor Fire threatened that area. On Aug. 30, more than two weeks after the fire was ignited dozens of miles away, its flames lurched over the Sierra Nevada and pushed toward Tahoe’s south shore. Days later, thousands of people were forced to evacuate.

Andy Chapman of the Incline Village visitors bureau says that drove the decision to give drones a spin this year.

“How safe is it throwing lit objects in the sky in July?” Chapman said. “Caldor Fire was close, you know, and we all were affected by that – we were all affected by smoke all summer long.”

In Colorado, at least half a dozen cities – the largest being Lakewood – will also have drone shows on the Fourth.

The state had its most destructive wildfire earlier this year. The Marshall Fire destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 homes and over 30 commercial structures.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

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