Rogue fireworks routinely spark up small, manageable flare-ups during fireworks displays, but given the high risk this year, the Fire Department did not want to jeopardize public safety, he said.
Before canceling the fireworks display, the department pursued options that could possibly mitigate fire risk, such as trimming back brush in the hills or pre-treating the area with fire retardant, Pansini said.
"But at the end of the day, we're going to have fires and, with the safety of all the folks, we just couldn't do it."
The increased fire risk this year was underscored by the recent outbreaks above Barham Boulevard in March and blazes in Santa Clarita, on Catalina Island and in Griffith Park, said Burbank Fire Department Capt. Ron Bell. The Griffith Park fire scorched more than 800 acres over a two-day period.
And the risky conditions that fueled those fires will worsen as the season goes on, he said.
"These fires took off instantly because of the conditions," he said. "And we're not even in the severest of those conditions right now."
Also, support services that are usually available during the holidays might be compromised, given the increased need for emergency responders, he added.
"Normally we have a helicopter standing by on our heli-spot loaned to us by another city," he said. "That may not be there. And if we call for help, we may not be able to get the help that we normally have at our disposal from the rest of the fire community because they'll be busy in their own districts."
City officials are working on replacing the fireworks with a special patriotic tribute, complementing performances by the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra, a classic rock show and food concessions provided by Handi-Mart Market, said Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Eric Hansen.
"We're looking for something that would be a fitting patriotic finale," he said. We're meeting with a bunch of different operators to see what kind of ideas they have."
Given global climate changes, the future of fireworks displays at the Starlight Bowl is uncertain, Pansini said.
"With all the global warming things — and we'll look at it year by year — but this might become more of the norm than the exception," he said.
Tickets for the event go on sale June 4 at McCambridge, Verdugo and Olive recreation centers, as well as the Administrative Services Building at 301 E. Olive Ave., Suite 300.
Tickets for the event will be sold at the same price as other shows during the summer season: $8 for adults; $5 for senior citizens more than 60 years old and $5 for children between 3 and 12 years old.
CHRIS WIEBE covers City Hall and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at chris.wiebe@ latimes.com.