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All players agree that Vinotok fire will be held at the Four-way Stop this year

Adhering to the approved design this time

By Mark Reaman

The Vinotok fire will get another chance to burn at the Four-way Stop this September. Last year the fire did not adhere to the town-approved design and ended up being larger than expected. A fall snowstorm on the day of the fire limited danger from the bonfire, so it was allowed to be held, but tensions arose between town and event organizers.

The two groups have met several times since then and an agreement has been reached to again try to have a controlled fire at the Four-way this coming September 23 for the climax of Vinotok.

Consideration was given to moving the bonfire to the gravel pit at the entrance to town but both parties agreed that impacts to the nearby neighborhoods would be too much of a negative. So the town and Vinotok organizers have concluded that if the fire can be held to the original 2016 design, it should be safe to be held at Sixth and Elk in the Visitors Center parking lot.

Joe Bob Merritt will provide oversight of the various elements that make up the fire. A timeline will be developed to ensure that both Vinotok and town marshals have time to inspect the various elements in advance of the day the fire is to be burned. A safety plan will be developed by Vinotok and reviewed for approval by Crested Butte chief marshal Mike Reily.

A test fire will be conducted well in advance of the event. Pyrotechnics may be allowed in the fire if they are tested in advance. The town is installing a concrete area as part of the Visitors Center paving project this fall that will accommodate fires.

“The preference is to maintain the fire at the Four-way with parameters,” town manager Dara MacDonald told the Town Council at a May 15 work session. “If everyone follows the parameters, the staff is comfortable allowing the fire in that location.”

“We think we can stick through the points in the memo,” said Vinotok’s Kat Harrington.

Councilwoman Laura Mitchell expressed some concern with the “cremora” pyrotechnics.

“Anything in the fire will be tested before the actual fire,” assured Reily. “We can flesh out the things that work and those that don’t.

“We are going with an outline,” Reily continued, “an actual plan that will be tested. There will be accountability on the Vinotok side and I’m confident they will be great. If it is not safe, it won’t happen.”

At the May 15 council meeting the council agreed to the outline provided. Vinotok organizers said they planned to apply for a special event application in August.

“We all love the event,” summarized mayor Glenn Michel. “We just want it to be safe. It sounds like we are all on the same page.”

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