UPDATE: Fireworks Back on for Heritage Festival
Fire chief rescinds cancellation order
Editor's note: this story was updated several times this morning, including with comments from the fire chief.
Fireworks will light up the night sky over downtown Kent at the end of the Heritage Festival this weekend after all.
Kent Fire Chief James Williams said this morning he rescinded his cancellation order for the annual fireworks after revoking the show's fireworks permit earlier this week at the recommendation of the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office due to the recent dry weather.
"I would still like to see us get more rain, but at this point I am comfortable in allowing them to go off as scheduled," Williams said.
The state fire marshal recommended doubling fall-out zones for the remnants of the fireworks, and to do so Kent would have needed access to the Kramer Ball Fields, which are inaccessible due to the closed bridge that is the only access point to the fields.
The recent dry weather also raised the concern of brush and grass fires, which if they were to occur at the ball fields — mere hundreds of feet from the fireworks launch point — would be nearly impossible to extinguish due to the inaccessibility caused by the closed bridge.
But several thunderstorms rolled through Northeast Ohio over the past few days, bringing with them fair amounts of rain that persuaded the fire department to reconsider the cancellation by reviewing the state of the fields near the launch point.
Williams said the amount of rain that's fallen in Kent since Monday was enough to allay his concerns about dry grass and brush providing fuel for potential fires.
"We will still be taking some added precautions in the form of having extra staff present and in different locations to monitor the fall-out and make sure that nothing happens," he said. "It was also after physically visiting the site and the areas around the site to make sure that we had gotten enough rain to make it greener."
The fireworks will be launched at about 10 p.m. from the former RB&W site on Mogadore Road.
This morning's news was welcome for Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the event organizing groups.
"I am thrilled that there will be fireworks at the festival!" Wemhoff said.