Illegal Fireworks in Idaho: Physician Asks, 'Who Is Kidding Who?'


Idaho firefighters, already taxed by battling wildfires across the Gem State, are more than a bit nervous about the next 48 hours, when thousands of fireworks, many of them illegal, will be set off. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed on Monday that the Jump Creek Canyon Fire, which torched 1,400 acres southwest of Marsing, was caused by fireworks.

Idaho's fireworks paradox is nothing new. In fact, Fat City Fireworks, a Costco-sized warehouse 20 miles south of Boise, proudly hawks aisles of illegal fireworks. You can sell illegal pyrotechnics in the Gem State, but customers are required to sign an affidavit promising to transport the explosives out of state.

Rows of illegal fireworks inside Fat City fireworks, south of Boise.
  • George Prentice
  • Rows of illegal fireworks inside Fat City fireworks, south of Boise.

"It's ironic, isn't it? They sell them but then tell you can't use them here," Dr. Kenneth Bramwell, an emergency medicine specialist at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center told BW in July 2011. "Who is kidding who? I'm pretty sure those illegal fireworks are being lit up where people live. And that means they're shooting them off in Boise."

Bramwell told BW that he has treated countless instances of burned hands and arms and ruptured ear drums, all from fireworks.

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan told BW that the Fourth of July is usually the busiest time for his men and women. In 2010, 372 incidents of illegal pyrotechnics were reported to Ada County law enforcement, including 189 calls to Boise Police.