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Stopping short of banning fireworks, city and county officials are issuing warnings resulting from the extremely hot and dry conditions being experienced across the area.
“Please use caution when shooting your fireworks in grassy areas or letting them fall in open hay fields,” said Fayetteville Mayor John Ed Underwood in a statement last week. “Bottle rockets or other flying objects can easily ignite yards, fields and even houses.
“The City of Fayetteville requests that you limit your fireworks until we have received some rain,” he added.
“Our county is a tinder box,” said Lincoln County Mayor Peggy Bevels in a guest editorial, which appears on page 4A of this week’s Times. “Please, please be careful as a lone spark or a cigarette can start a fire which can cause tremendous property damage or even death.
“Our Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities has stated we are in a critical stage with our county water, therefore please call our state Forester Jerry Mann at (931) 937-8603 before shooting fireworks.”
While the city has banned open burning, the county has not – the city has authority over such an action within its boundaries, but for the county to implement a ban, it would take a request from the county mayor to the state commissioner of agriculture, with consultation from an area state forester.
Bevels stated, though, she has stopped short of that because of the implications – “that would mean you could not even use a grill,” she said. “That violation, if caught, would be subject to a Class A misdemeanor as provided in TCA 39-14-304.”
According to Fayetteville Fire Chief Danny Travis, over 15,500 fires were caused by fireworks last year across the nation, resulting $36 million in property damage – “We don’t want to become a statistic,” Travis said. “If you’re going to shoot fireworks, have a hose handy. Also, don’t let children shoot off fireworks alone – a responsible adult needs to be present.
“Most of all, use common sense,” the fire chief added, noting that while the city hasn’t banned fireworks, it does have a ban on open burning. “We just don’t want to see anyone injured or any property damaged as a result of fireworks or any other similar activity.”
Residents in downtown Fayetteville are reminded, too, that it is unlawful to use any kind of fireworks – even firecrackers and sparklers – in the city’s fire limits, which extend two blocks north and south of the city square and one block east and west of the square.
It is also unlawful to discharge or use fireworks from city property, streets or sidewalks without prior written consent of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. It is unlawful to launch fireworks onto property of persons who have not given their permission. And you can’t ignite or discharge fireworks within or throw them from or into a motor vehicle, adds city ordinances.