Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Danny Pitts checks on the inventory at a fireworks stand on Alabama 36 in Hartselle. Although the stand doesn't officially open until Wednesday, orders are already being taken.
Fireworks when fires are banned
You can buy all you want, but it's against the law to shoot them off
By Tiffeny Hurtado
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2440
This summer will be the first time fireworks have been banned across many counties in the state, but that's not stopping fireworks vendors from selling them for July 4.
State Forester Linda Casey said an emergency fireworks ban is in effect in 33 counties, including Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone.
"The situation in our state is extremely dangerous for burning and for the use of fireworks," said Ed Paulk, state fire marshal. "We are joining the state forester in her efforts to prevent a tragedy in our state."
The ban prohibits the personal and commercial use of fireworks. Only displays over water are exempt.
Only people issued permits from the state fire marshal and the Alabama Forestry Commission are allowed to shoot fireworks in the affected counties.
A local fire department must be present at these public displays in case a fire occurs. Despite these restrictions, fireworks stands will be ready for business Wednesday, when retailers are allowed to begin selling fireworks to customers over age 16. Sales are allowed through July 10
Paulk said people can buy fireworks, but they better let them sit in the closet until the weather permits their safe use.
If caught, fireworks shooters face fines between $250 and $500 and up to six months in jail. If a wildfire results from someone using fireworks in a banned county, the offender also would be criminally liable for damages caused.
"There is a dangerous situation throughout the state, and in the 33 counties, in particular.
We hope Alabamians will be patient through this time of danger," Paulk said.
The restrictions don't seem to be slowing business for area fireworks retailers.
Paul Pitts operates a fireworks stand on Alabama 36 in Hartselle. He said that even though his stand isn't officially open for business, he is already taking orders.
"We've had about the same amount of business for this time of year," Pitts said.
He said he called the state fire marshal to make sure his stand could sell fireworks during the ban.
The state fire marshal said that no one could keep the merchants from selling the fireworks.
"We're abiding by all the rules," Pitts said.
In Decatur, the Spirit of America Festival has permission to conduct its annual fireworks show on the 4th of July, and the Decatur Fire Department will be present to prevent any fire that could occur.
The Reliance Bank Firecracker Festival in Athens is in the process of obtaining a permit, according to Heather Green, event organizer.
The fireworks ban is in response to the latest Drought Monitor report that declared North Alabama in an "exceptional drought" and experiencing the worst drought conditions in the nation.
The National Weather Service in Huntsville said the situation is perfect for a catastrophic wildfire.
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