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Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]

An early morning fire today destroyed the source of funding for Havre's public fireworks display, and the local service group that puts on the show is hoping the community will come through to help it continue a decades-old tradition. “Right now we don't know much except our booth burned down, and we Hope the community will be able to support us somehow,” Havre Jaycees President Amanda Laeupple said this morning, adding that the Jaycees will have an emergency meeting tonight to regroup and decide how to move forward. Havre firefighters responded to a call at 4:27 a.m. that the Jaycees' fireworks booth at the parking lot of the Holiday Village Mall was burning. By 7 a.m. the fire was mainly contained, although firefighters were still occasionally spraying hot spots in the smoldering remains of the trailer and its contents. Laeupple said she had no idea what caused the fire, and that the Jaycees would stay in contact with the Havre Fire Department to learn the results of its investigation. Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said at 6:50 a.m. that the cause was unknown at that point and was under investigation. Jaycee Jason Murri, who puts together the fireworks for the display each year, said this morning that the organization has a limited supply of fireworks due to the weather on Independence Day 2008. “We do have some fireworks that were left over from last year because of the hurricane, or whatever you call it, that blew through,” he said. Laeupple said the proceeds from the sale at the booth each year are used to buy the fireworks for that year's display. The amount raised also is used to estimate and plan the next year's display, she added the larger the amount of sales the larger the Jaycees plan the next year's display. She said the booth was insured, but this morning she was not certain whether that covered the contents or just the booth itself and provided liability coverage. Murri, said the loss to the Jaycees is enormous. Each year the organization buys its fireworks for the display this year it is purchasing between $5,300 and $5,400 worth but doesn't pay for the purchase until after the display is put on, with the proceeds from the booth sales. To make the loss worse, the Jaycees also don't pay for the fireworks they sell until after the sales are complete. Unsold fireworks are returned to the manufacturer, and the Jaycees only pay for what they sell, he said. “Now, not only do we have to pay for all the fireworks we lost, we have to get a new fireworks booth somewhere,” he said. Laeupple said the Jaycees would spend the day finding out exactly what funding will still be available, and will provide that information at the meeting tonight. She said she expects that the Jaycees will have to rely on donations from the community to make up for the loss, support the Jaycees normally ask for through sales at their booth. “We'll be doing a lot of research today on different avenues on how to put on the show ,” she said. “We are definitely hoping to do something It won't be anything as great as we wanted without the community support.” She said everyone is welcome to come to the meeting, set for 7 p.m. at the Holiday Village parking lot by what is left at the booth. For more information, call Laeupple at 945-3417 or Murri at 265-5818. Donations can be mailed to the Jaycees at P.O. Box 1327, Havre, MT 59501 or dropped off for the Jaycees Night Display at Independence Bank.


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