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Employees Brittany Bales, left, Chaz Black, Karen Clark and Jackie McNamee wait on Carolyn Cole and Shaneah Cole on Friday at Calvary Assembly of God's fireworks stand on Alabama 20 in Southern Limestone County.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Employees Brittany Bales, left, Chaz Black, Karen Clark and Jackie McNamee wait on Carolyn Cole and Shaneah Cole on Friday at Calvary Assembly of God's fireworks stand on Alabama 20 in Southern Limestone County.

OK to buy, but some can't be shot
Ban on some fireworks
causing confusion

By Emily Peck
epeck@decaturdaily.com 340-2408

It's confusing. You can sell all types of fireworks, but you can shoot only ground-level fireworks such as sparklers, poppers and fire crackers.

The Alabama Forestry Commission made shooting ground-level fireworks legal June 20, after a light rain fell across much of the state.

But the rain did not alleviate the 100-year, exceptional drought this area faces. Vegetation is so dry a spark could ignite a wildfire.

Sales not regulated

Although forestry isn't regulating the sale of anything, people who shoot certain fireworks can be arrested. People who shoot banned fireworks that start fires can be criminally and civilly liable. Many vendors are voluntarily refusing to sell prohibited fireworks.

Others are under the false impression that they can't sell the banned skyrockets with sticks and rockets/missiles with fins or rudders. The ban is on shooting, not selling.

"It's still early, but we're not making as many sales as usual," says Karen Clark of Dizzy Dean's Fireworks on Alabama 20 in Limestone County.

"Sellers purchase fireworks months in advance of July Fourth," says Ryan Vanderford of First Pentecostal Church in Athens. "Bottle rockets are usually our No. 1 seller."

Bottle rockets a favorite

Some of the cheapest fireworks, bottle rockets, are often a favorite of teenagers early in the season. Last year Vanderford's youth group sold more than 100,000 as a fundraiser.

Since opening their stands, both Clark and Vanderford have seen only three or four customers a day.

"Mostly, we're selling little things like poppers and thunder bombs," says Clark.

Hurting sales

With sales down by a third this year, K.Y. Carter, co-owner of Fireworks Outlet in Athens, attributes her loss to media coverage on the ban.

"Nobody thinks you can buy fireworks," says Carter.

"They come in asking if it's legal to buy them and we're like, 'Sure.' "

"The problem with bottle rockets is that you don't have any control over where they go," says Carter. "That makes them a huge fire hazard. ... This is our livelihood, so it's been really scary. It's caused us to pray a lot."

Even though the season has been tough, Fireworks Outlet will be doing all it can to ensure a safe Fourth of July.

"Everybody is asking for bottle rockets right now, but we're not going to sell them," says Carter. "It's just not worth it."

Charles Rawls, spokesman for the forestry fire division, commends sellers on their efforts to promote safety.

"It's a great gesture on their part," says Rawls.

Fireworks

The Alabama Forestry Commission is not banning the sale of any fireworks. It is not legal to shoot certain types.

Allowed

  • Firecrackers

  • Sparklers

  • Poppers

    Banned

  • Skyrockets with sticks

  • Rockets/missiles with fins or rudders

    - Alabama Forestry Commission

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