Fascination with fireworks was as prevalent in the early decades of twentieth century Idaho as it is today, to judge by newspaper reports. The most elaborate show in southwestern Idaho was held at the conclusion of the Western Idaho Fair. Many towns put on a fireworks exhibition on Independence Day. Cities competed to organize the biggest show and draw the largest crowd.
The greatest fireworks disaster in Idaho history happened on July 3, 1909 in Nampa when an entire city block burned. That fire was deliberately caused by a man who picked up a bomb from a display of fireworks for sale inside a cigar store. He lit the fuse and threw the bomb back into the display. Most problems at Idaho fireworks shows have occurred by accident when stray sparks set off all the explosives at once. Given the unpredictable nature of fireworks, it usually pays to watch pyrotechnic performances from a distance.
The men in charge of the fireworks display in Caldwell in 1919 had the misfortune of presiding over one of Idaho’s spectacular incendiary fiascoes. The Idaho Statesman reported that “a faulty mine deposited a mass of whirling flame in fireworks at Memorial Park and ignited the entire collection. It all went off at once. People scattered hastily in every direction to escape the flying flames and missiles.
“Every automobile parked in the vicinity was the center of a miniature riot with pedestrians and occupants of the cars getting low in the seats and behind and under the machines.
“Sky rockets, flying grenades, mines and other pyrotechnical features scattered in every direction from the platform where the display was being given. Through some freak of fortune, not one person was seriously injured.” People who were at the show said of the program before the mishap, “It was fine while it lasted.”

Comments are closed.