May 24, 2007

Wildfire weary county places 60-day ban on fireworks

Perhaps its time Governor Arnold did the same in we are in the middle of a record season is just starting..

Oh and for the comment that lawnmowers and barbeque's should banned to I don't think those fall into the same category as fireworks whose sole purpose if to create smoke and sparks. They are not a necessity like mowing the lawn (which reduces the fire hazard)

The Associated Press - WAYCROSS, Ga.

Weary from extreme drought and a record wildfire still burning after five weeks, Ware County commissioners on Thursday unanimously banned fireworks for the next 60 days _ a period including the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.

Anyone violating the moratorium will face fines up to $1,000 and up to 60 days in jail, said James Ginn, a Ware County spokesman.

"Fireworks by design are somewhat volatile and sometimes unpredictable," Ginn said. "They have a proven track record of causing fires, and that's in conditions less dry than this."

Firework sales are expected to peak for the July 4 holiday, but Georgia retailers are stocking sparklers and other fireworks in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

The nation's largest firework distributor, Alabama-based TNT Fireworks, said Thursday it has halted shipments to Ware County and other counties in south Georgia and parts of Florida because of fire risks. The company said it hoped conditions would improve in time to resume shipments by July 4.

"We do not want TNT products associated with wildfires," Tommy Glascow, the company's president, said in a statement.

The largest wildfire recorded in Georgia since the 1950s started just outside of Waycross when a tree ignited after falling onto a power line April 16.

The blaze, now centered in the Okefenokee Swamp, has burned 496,785 acres _ or 776 square miles _ of swamp and timberland in southern Georgia and northern Florida. It has destroyed 21 homes in Ware County.

The Ware County moratorium bans using fireworks, but not selling them. Ginn said that's because most county residents are in the city of Waycross, which is not affected by the county's ban.

John Thomas, a Georgia lobbyist for Ohio-based retailer Phantom Fireworks, said the county had unfairly singled out fireworks when cigarettes, barbecue grills and lawn mowers can also start fires.

"We can ban fireworks and that's not going to stop wildfires," Thomas said. "It's an inappropriate response targeting one product when we should be looking at general fire safety."

Georgia banned all fireworks until 2005, when state lawmakers voted to allow sales of sparklers and other items that don't explode or shoot balls of flame. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles as well as many others are still illegal.

The Georgia Forestry Commission has urged Georgians statewide to refrain from using fireworks because of drought conditions. It says fireworks started 25 fires in Georgia during the last July 4 holiday.

The commission says central and south Georgia are so dry that more than half of the state faces an "extreme" fire danger _ the most severe rating. Everywhere else, the threat is considered "high" or "very high."

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