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Fireworks back
on for July 4

Forestry agency eases restrictions in 33 Alabama counties; not enough rain to lift 'No Burn' order

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — It will be a fireworks-filled Fourth of July after all.

State Forester Linda Casey signed an order Wednesday that eases fireworks restrictions in 33 Northern and Central Alabama counties and allows ground level fireworks such as basic firecrackers, sparklers and poppers. Aerial type rockets with sticks or any rockets or missiles with fins or rudders are prohibited.

Last week Casey and Alabama Fire Marshal Ed Paulk restricted fireworks in the 33 counties to over-water displays only because the area is under a drought emergency.

Commission officials said the rainfall received in parts of the state Tuesday was not enough to lift the "No Burn" or emergency drought orders for the 33 counties. The state's remaining 34 counties are still in a Fire Alert status that was issued May 18, and the commission has stopped issuing burn permits except on a restricted basis.

Wednesday's amendment came after three major Alabama fireworks dealers met with officials from the forestry commission, governor's office and state fire marshal's office, and volunteered to pull bottle rocket-type fireworks from their shelves for July 4 sales.

Forestry officials said their major concern was over fireworks that leave the vicinity they are discharged from, creating the probability of unburned material in the air falling to a remote area and starting a fire.

After "re-evaluating the initial fireworks restrictions, it was decided that the ground-level fireworks could be more safely used by the public," Casey said in a statement.

Casey can still authorize organized commercial or municipal displays of fireworks upon written request and after consulting with Paulk.

Pam Palmer, vice president of Crazy Bill's Fireworks, said the industry leaders urged state officials to change the general use restrictions and add the rocket and missile restrictions.

"We're going to do it statewide. ... By removing those items, you've removed the risk," Palmer said. "We're not afraid they will start fires under normal circumstances. But they are sometimes misused."

The three companies are responsible for an estimated 95 percent of fireworks sales in the state, Palmer said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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