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Firefighters help celebrate the 4th of July in Laurel

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Jul 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-04 18:00:16-04

The Laurel Volunteer Fire Department started setting up the fireworks for the Fourth of July after taking last year off because of COVID.

Firefighters put down the launching tubes at Thompson Park on Saturday.

Last year, firefighters lit off some fireworks at different places in Laurel in order to limit the crowds.

This year, the biggest show in Montana, with 15,000 fireworks is back.

"Well if you ask me, I think it's better than Christmas," said Kent Kulesa, Laurel assistant fire chief. "I love Christmas too."

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KTVQ photo

Kulesa is the fireworks chair, and the work on Saturday is important for Independence Day.

"We're celebrating our freedom and it's awesome," he said. "It makes me happy because it's Americans being Americans."

Firefighters and volunteers cleared the tubes and checked the rubber bands holding them.

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"This is really amazing how this works out, especially tomorrow when we load the bombs," said Clay Nagel of Big Timber Search & Rescue.

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KTVQ photo

Crews also have to prepare the electronics.

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KTVQ photo

"Three or four firemen in here that are shooting the show," said John Herr about a metal container called the bunker. "So everybody is safe inside in case something goes wrong. You got a couple little windows out here so all we can see then is basically what the show was going off and hear it that the thing's going off. We don't actually get to see fireworks show."

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KTVQ photo

"When it's time to fly the flag, when rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air, and all of that," firefighter Doug Fox said about firing off the fireworks. "We kind of have that plan to head. So we listen to the music and we try and give it a count or a pace."

This is all part of the big Fourth of July festivities in Laurel.

"I've heard anywhere from, you know 50,000, 30,000," Kulesa said about the turnout in Laurel.

And Kulesa says he's inspired when he hears a firefighter yell "fire in the hole" and then shoot off a firework during the setup.

"That's the best part of the day," Kulesa said. "We're celebrating our freedom and our independence. We have several guys that are veterans and we can do that because what they do."

Fire department equipment will be on standby near the park.