Clayton Ortiz of Mr. W Fireworks said that Black Cats are popular choice this summer among customers for the Fourth of July.
By Darrell Todd Maurina
Above-normal rainfall exempted Curry County and other eastern New Mexico counties from a special dry weather ban on fireworks and most open burning issued last week by Gov. Bill Richardson. Still, Clovis Fire Chief Ron Edwards urged residents to use caution this Independence Day weekend.
“God has shared with us a little bit of rain, but in the distant past we have burned up vehicles with kids using aerial devices and had grass fires due to kids and children using them in dry grass areas,” Edwards said.
Edwards said devices that shoot up into the air are particularly dangerous, but cautioned that any flame-producing device can cause problems.
Fireworks ordinances in Curry County and within the city limits of Clovis differ. Laws also change when users cross the border to Texas or from Curry to Roosevelt County, so Edwards said fireworks users need to check with local authorities.
One difference is while bottle rockets are legal in Texas and as of Tuesday are legal in unincorporated parts of Roosevelt County, they cannot be used anywhere in Curry County. Clovis rules are even stricter, banning not only bottle rockets but also all aerial devices and ground audible devices that make loud noises.
Edwards said those differences cause confusion.
“Bottle rockets are still allowed in some states and we still have problems because you can drive nine miles (to Texas) and get them,” Edwards said. “Because the county does allow aerial and ground devices, people purchase them in the county and use them in the city illegally.”
Dealers who have recently set up roadside fireworks stands said businesses is good and customers aren’t deterred by the fires raging elsewhere in New Mexico.
Clayton Ortiz, who sells fireworks at the Mr. W. stand east of Clovis on U.S. 60/70/84, said a number of his customers come from Texas. Since he sells outside the city limits, his stocks include some fireworks that will go up to 200 feet in the air.
“It’ll do 20-foot wide bursts when it shoots,” Ortiz said. “It’s pretty exciting. Once it gets going, it’s big.”
Ortiz said he cautions purchasers not to take safety for granted.
“Light it and stand back about 10 feet,” Ortiz said. “Hurry up and get away.”
While setting up shop within the Clovis city limits limited what Christina Snell can offer at Big Bang Fireworks near the corner of Eighth and Prince, she said her target audience is different — younger children whose parents may not be able to drive out to the country where she has a second stand selling larger fireworks.
“We do all the safe fireworks,” Snell said. “We don’t have anything that goes over 6 feet.”
Snell warned that even smaller items can be dangerous.
“I’d caution any younger kids on anything; we don’t sell to little kids and we make sure the parents know (parents) need to be lighting them,” Snell said.