Pyrotechnician team prepares for Bitterroot fireworks shows


HAMILTON, Mont. - Look for a lot of color in the skies of the Bitterroot when it gets dark on July 4th.

Two public fireworks displays are scheduled in the valley, one at the city park in Florence, the other at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds in Hamilton.

Steve Boshae and Bubba Riley are pyrotechnicians who are getting ready for the shows. On Thursday morning, they were working with about $19,000 in fireworks.

It's a big job.

The men weren't dealing with your grandma's sparklers. The industrial fireworks they work with are designed to create the wow factor in an audience.

"It's about timing," said Boshae.

"You have to have shells in the air constantly," he said. "And you don't want a show that's too long, or they're going to get bored. And you don't want to be repeating shells."

The men carefully prepare each and every fireworks shell. They are of various sizes and will create myriad colors when they are set off.

Everything they are working with is dangerous. It's safety first.

"We use button igniters," said Riley. "And we're usually 50 feet away from them when they're going off."

Boshae will oversee the Hamilton show. Riley, who built the equipment to operate the shows, will be in Florence.

"We have about 480 shots in that show," said Riley. "And Steve has about 680 shots in his show."

The team plans for a beginning, middle and finale for the shows.

The city of Hamilton puts on the fairgrounds show. The Florence Fire Department puts on the show in the north valley.