On July 14, 2021

Fireworks protocols to be discussed

Killington explosions remain a mystery, police continue to pursue leads

By Curt Peterson

In June, Killington Police Chief Whit Montgomery told the Mountain Times his department had received numerous complaints about loud explosions in a particular neighborhood.

The explosions occurred for a couple of days, then none for a few days, and then they would resume, Montgomery said. The devices were louder than fireworks and echoed, so it was difficult to locate their origin.

As of June 28 Montgomery could only say police had one or two properties in the West Hill Road area (between Route 4 and Killington Road) on their radar, and he felt they were closing in on whoever was setting off the explosions.

“We’ve had anonymous tips from townspeople that have helped us zero in on the source and location,” Montgomery said. “People don’t want to give their names for fear of retribution. After all, we are talking about explosives.”

Following our report, the Mountain Times received emails from residents in the targeted area frustrated with ongoing explosions and wondering about the status of the investigation.

One neighbor in the area wrote, “We’ve been dealing with this issue since last year. And with the strong possibility that a fire could be started, we are very concerned.”

When we reached out to Chief Montgomery, he said the last several days have been quiet regarding the “big bang” explosions he’s investigating. “The last couple of nights we have received fireworks complaints from the same general area — Rocky Ridge Rd., Tanglewood Dr. and Floral Dr.,” Montgomery said, Monday, July 12. “It’s also difficult to locate [the source] due to the fact they don’t seem to be aerial displays, more likely ground displays or firecracker type devices.”

Selectman Jim Haff has requested that the issue of fireworks be added to the agenda for the July 20 meeting, asking for clarity on the “state’s actual statutes on fireworks to make sure we as a town are following and enforcing the rules.”

The state statute — Title 20, Chapter 177 “Explosives and Fireworks” — states that order to sell, transport, possess or set off fireworks, one has to first obtain a permit from “both the [U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] and the municipality in which the person offers for sale and stores the fireworks.”

“Fireworks” does not include sparklers.

In order for an individual to legally display fireworks (whether or not the “big bang” explosives fit the broad statutory definition of fireworks, is unclear as it has yet to be determined what the explosives are, specifically) rules set by the state fire marshal must be followed and enforced by local police and fire departments, or the Select Board if the town has neither.

A prospective operator of a fireworks event must request a permit at least 15 days prior to the display and prove that they meet all state and local requirements for safe operation as well as comply with noise ordinances.

Regarding enforcement, any official from the state fire marshal to a local police officer or constable has the right to seize fireworks being possessed or used without a permit. Violators can be charged with a misdemeanor, with fines up to $100, and/or 30 days in jail, according to the state.

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