Officials: Moisture will help make fireworks season safer

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Brad Bender, left, and Marty Bender, center, buy fireworks from Paul Bennett at the Giant Fireworks stand on U.S. 60/70/84 Tuesday afternoon. The Bender brothers said they are using fireworks as part of a car sales promotion where customers who purchase a car get $100 in fireworks.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Recent moisture will help make this fireworks season safer but officials still caution residents to know the law and use care.

Especially as Independence Day draws closer.

Fireworks restrictions in the city are the most stringent. All fireworks that go airborne or make noise are prohibited.

City ordinance eliminates many fireworks, including bottle rockets, Roman candles and “Black Cat” firecrackers, according to Clovis police Capt. Patrick Whitney.

Whitney said there have been 56 fireworks complaint calls since June 18.

Fireworks sales began statewide June 20 and end July 6.

In the county, the commission has not imposed fire or fireworks restrictions this year, meaning state laws direct what is permitted, said Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller.

State statute permits a lengthy list of fireworks, allowing all but, “stick-type rockets having a tube less than five-eighths inch outside diameter and less than three and one-half inches in length,” and sound-producing fireworks with more than 130 milligrams of “explosive composition per report.”

Waller said the sheriff’s office is also already receiving fireworks complaint calls.

“This time of year usually brings about a multitude of complaints and concerns from citizens, ranging from unlawful fireworks to trespassing complaints created by people that go to the county to set off fireworks,” Waller said.

Under city ordinance, Whitney said violations are a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $300 fine and 90 days in jail.

“Officers have the discretion of enforcement action to do everything from a verbal warning, citation or arrest and also confiscating the fireworks,” Whitney said by e-mail.

And there could be civil penalties if a fire resulted from illegal use, he said.

Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said as of Tuesday there have been no issues with fire or injury related to fireworks this year.

“Recent moisture is going to help alleviate some of that,” he said.

However residents using fireworks should still exercise caution he said.

“The safest (thing to do) is read and follow instructions on each firework.”

Sales have been good so far this season, said Paul Bennett, with Giant Fireworks located between Clovis and Texico on U.S. 60/84/70.

“It just keeps building and building,” he said, explaining sales are expected to increase closer to Sunday.

“With all this rain we should have a fairly safe Fourth of July.”