Debris associated with pyrotechnics is washing up on several East Shore beaches.
Wads of cardboard and brown paper, wiry red fuses and plastic cup-like backings are just a few of the items that have been found in the area.
“It has filled up a large garbage bag,” said PineWild resident Joan Truxler, who’s been picking up the garbage. “We have never seen this before on PineWild Beach. It’s just alarming.”
Two organized shows — Lights on the Lake and the Glenbrook display— took place nearby where the debris is washing up. Both of the shows’ organizers are required to have cleanup plans as part of the permit process. Though some of the papery material could be from the shows, both organizers recognized other found materials as being from consumer-grade fireworks.
“It looks to me like a mix of debris, some of it from the Lights on the Lake and some smaller items from an unauthorized private firework discharge,” said Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District fire marshal Eric Guevin.
His department did not receive any reports of illegal fireworks being set off, Guevin said. But, if the illegal fireworks were set off simultaneously to the larger legal shows, they may have been inconspicuous, he added.
Pyro Spectacular Inc., which engineers Lights on the Lake, does multiple sweeps with boats, nets, divers and staff on land to collect fireworks debris. This year the company picked up about 15 bags of debris, said Mike Fry, a spokesman for Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, which contracts Pyro Spectacular.
“Pyro has been shooting our show for over 30 years,” Frye said. “They are very responsible and do their very best to leave nothing behind.”
Pyro Guys, which organizes the Glenbrook show, uses fireworks created with primarily biodegradable material, said pyrotechnics operator Jeff Coonce. They also do multiple sweeps for fireworks debris in the vicinity of their show.
“I even have a guy that stays in his car, so he can sweep the beach at first light,” Coonce said.
For Truxler, the mess on the nearby beach and the stench of the debris — much of it now in bags at her house — has caused her to question the importance of fireworks at Lake Tahoe.
““I think as a community we should come together and decide are fireworks a viable way to celebrate the Fourth of July,” she said. “We live in a very fragile environment and I think that should take precedence over one day of the year when we do significant damage.”