An errant firework shell that broke through the roof of a Gillette couple’s house during Sunday’s PGI show hasn’t been the only fire started during the group’s 50th convention, but it was the most memorable.
Two small grass fires were reported at about 5:15 and 6:50 p.m. Monday on Fox Park Avenue and Wyoming Highway 51 and Fox Park Road, respectively. They were started by fireworks debris, though both were contained to less than a 10th of an acre, according to a Campbell County Fire Department press release.
The possibility for small fires caused by the fireworks is expected and has been the norm each of the years that the Pyrotechnics Guild International has visited Gillette. The Fire Department, Cam-plex and PGI have contingency plans for those, including having firefighters stationed in nearby subdivisions during public shows and having trucks stationed at Cam-plex, officials said.
But certainly Keith and Blanca Fare didn’t expect a shell to land on the roof of their home on University Road just north of Cam-plex and Highway 51. The firework shell went awry in the initial minutes of Sunday’s PGI show and broke through their roof and exploded.
It started a small fire that was quickly put out, but the couple wasn’t hurt, according to the Fire Department.
The fire happened at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday, roughly the same time the show started with the national anthem.
Pyrotechnics Guild International spokesman Tom Sklebar said he did not know the estimate of the damages, but that PGI would pay for the homeowner’s expenses.
“The rocket launched during the displays at the PGI event took an errant trajectory and struck a house,” he said. “All occupants were outside at the time and no one was injured.”
PGI will reconfigure its display options to prevent another incident, Sklebar said.
Firefighters arrived at the home in 58 seconds after being paged around 9:15 p.m. and the fire had already been extinguished, but not before there was damage to the residence, according to a Campbell County Fire Department press release.
Sklebar said PGI wouldn’t comment further unless there is new information.
The Fares were contacted and declined to comment on the incident.
The Fire Department states it has been working with PGI and Cam-plex.
“We have units assigned out there for the public shows. That’s why our response time was less than a minute,” said Cpt. Ryan Fox.
More closures of Highway 51
Highway 51 will be closed from Garner Lake Road to American Road for the Wednesday and Friday shows. This is due to the planned launch of the “Super Nuke” during the Wednesday display and the “large” shell during the Friday show. Highway 51 will reopen immediately following the conclusion of each show.
In an effort to alleviate traffic chaos, Cam-plex has partnered with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office to devise a traffic plan to keep traffic rolling as swiftly as possible. Spectators leaving Cam-plex onto Garner Lake and Boxelder roads will only be able to make right-hand turns. Sheriff’s deputies will be directing traffic to keep all lanes moving smoothly.
The public entrances of Broken Spur, Wrangler and Indian Paintbrush will open at 7 p.m. From 6-7 p.m., Indian Paintbrush will only be open to sponsors and those with VIP passes.
Windmill Drive will be closed to the general public at all times and only those with proper PGI credentials will be allowed to use that entrance.
Fox Park Road will be closed during each public show and will be reopened at the conclusion of the show. Parking along Garner Lake, Boxelder and Highway 51 is prohibited during the shows, according to a press release from the county.