DENVER — Phones have been busy at Hire UAV Pros in Denver.
"We had probably somewhere in the order of 300 to 400 requests for the 4th of July," Graham Hill, the business' owner, said.
His company does synchronized drone light shows like the ones you might see at the Super Bowl. Now, towns in fire-prone areas are reaching out to inquire about a replacement for traditional fireworks.
"Post Marshall Fire, it's been much more about replacing the entertainment, not just this year but looking for an alternative for the foreseeable future," Hill said. "We're already working on doing four shows in four different locations over 4th of July weekend."
There is some precedent for the worry. Last year's Christmas show put on by the Douglas County commissioners caused spot fires at every location where those fireworks were launched.
This year, two communities in Douglas County are under contract to do drone light shows for Independence Day. Castle Pines will host a show on July 3. Parker's drone display is scheduled for the Stars and Stripes Celebration on July 4.
"With recent fire events across our region, ongoing drought conditions and fire ban risk, the Town of Parker has chosen to try a new and innovative finale experience—a drone light show—for the 2022 Parker Stars and Stripes Celebration," the town said in a statement. "The Town recognizes the beloved tradition of Independence Day fireworks. As such, the drone light show finale is a one-year trial for 2022."
Fire investigators confirmed that it was a drone crash that started a recent fire in Boulder County. Hill said his crews take several safety precautions to avoid that, like not flying over paved areas or manicured grass.
"We're flying hundreds of drones within about 6 to 8 feet of each other, so 25 miles an hour of winds or above are a no-go for us," he said.
As the West continues to stay dry, Hill expects demand to keep growing.
"This time last year we had about three shows booked, and this year we have about 30," he said.
Castle Pines may still have a fireworks show in addition to the drones.
The Parker event will feature 150 drones in a 12-minute display featuring "multiple designs and choreographed movements from a fleet of drones set to patriotic music." The drones will fly 400 feet in the air and visible from 2 miles away.
Parker said it will reevaluate using fireworks next year.