Idaho firefighters and law enforcement are nervously watching hundreds of fireworks stands pop up again across the Gem State.
With hot, dry and windy conditions, the setting is ripe for a single spark to turn into a raging wildfire. Major blazes are already sweeping across Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah. The number of homes destroyed in a two-week-old wildfire in northern Colorado was raised to 248 on Sunday as residents of a subdivision near Fort Collins learned that more homes had been lost.
While fireworks sales are legal in most of Idaho's communities in the week leading up to the Fourth of July, some Gem State communities have decided to increase penalties for illegal possession of pyrotechnics.
Boise firefighters are blaming a June 20 Palouse Street garage blaze on fireworks.
This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that the city of Lewiston has bumped up its penalty for possessing aerial fireworks to a $300 fine and up to six months in jail. An additional $287 will be necessary to post bond at the Lewiston courthouse.
A fireworks-related fire burned Lewiston's Grace Lutheran Church in 2011, causing $800,000 in damages and threatening the lives of five people sleeping in the building's basement. When the church is rebuilt, officials said they plan on making the bottle rocket responsible for the blaze a part of a permanent display.