NEWS

Black Mountain watches Independence Day fireworks display in aftermath of heat lightning

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The fireworks in Black Mountain began nearly an hour after sunset due to heat lightning.

Black Mountain residents and other locals crowded into the parking lot of the old Bi-Lo July 4 to see fireworks but ended up having to wait until nearly 10 p.m.

Though operators say this was not unusual, heat lightning was seen before the start of show, delaying the start.

The fireworks display began around 9:45 p.m., nearly an hour after sunset. According to staff from Pyro Shows, the company in charge of the display, the Black Mountain show went well, firing 100%.

Despite an initial delay, the Black Mountain show fired at 100%, according to operating staff.

"As far as any delays, I don't have anything to confirm what may have been the cause," said James Woods, Pyro Shows regional sales manager. "I know in that particular part of the country, we did have some issues with rain and storms last night which delayed some other shows."

Before the start of the fireworks display, onlookers could see heat lightning in the clouds overhead. Woods said lightning and wind often result in delays but thanks to radar and storm tracking, operators can prepare for such events.

A Fourth of July fireworks display took place behind the old Bi-Lo parking lot in Black Mountain.

Though storms typically result in the cloud-to-ground lightning, causing fireworks operators to be cautious, Woods said heat lightning can also be a concern. He said the chief operator reported heat lightning in the area but the display still began when it was supposed to, between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m.

"It could've been it was getting closer and closer," Woods said. "I can imagine (heat lightning) was probably the cause. I had probably a dozen shows in that market last night and there were some reports that they had to delay and that was the reasoning."

For additional safety, the Black Mountain Fire Department has fire suppression and fire marshal personnel on site at every professional display hosted by the town. Fire Marshall Charlie Russell said all shows and fireworks sale sites are inspected to ensure safety and compliance with state statutes. 

"We encourage all our residents and visitors to leave the fireworks to the professionals so that everyone can enjoy them and be as safe as possible," Russell said via email. 

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.