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FBI advises ‘no credible threats’ for July 4

Friday, Jul. 3 | By Michael Melkonian
County law enforcement and emergency crews are poised to handle expected crowds of more than 35,000 at Great Meadow this Saturday, one of the area’s largest fireworks shows outside of Washington D.C.

High profile celebrations like this one are at the heart of the concern voiced by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. After terror attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait last week, Johnson released a statement about the evolving global threat of terrorism.

“Particularly with the upcoming July 4th holiday, here in the United States the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI continue to communicate with state and local law enforcement about what we know and see. We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared. We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people.”

Lt. James Hartman of the Fauquier Sheriff's office said they had been in contact with FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Virginia Fusion Center but at this time he has “been advised there are no credible threats in Virginia.”

“Because it’s a national holiday and the proximity to the nation’s capital, there is always a heightened sense and level of security,” Hartman said. “We will continue to receive the latest intelligence information concerning any real or perceived threats to these holiday events.”

Fauquier Fire and Rescue Chief Thomas Billington said they will also have units on scene coordinating with the fireworks company, but have no extra precautions planned.

“We are there anyway in full force on a regular basis, just to make sure it’s a safe event,” Billington said. “So we’re very comfortable with what we have out there.”

Billington said they have an action plan arranged with surrounding emergency units in case something does happen.

“We’re very confident that we have the resources there to take care of anything that comes up,” Billington said.

The best case scenario for him is a great fireworks show where everyone goes home wearing a seatbelt. The most hazardous part of the night comes from the drive home Billington said.

In addition to these security measures, VDOT will also be closing Route 245 southbound to provide two lanes back to I-66 after the fireworks show ends according to the Great Meadow event website. The closing will last from 9 to 10:30 p.m.

Gates open to Great Meadow at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 4. Fireworks start after dark around 9:30 p.m.

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