Fireworks stands open despite restrictions

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Monday was the first day vendors were allowed to sell fireworks in the state. Taylor Vest of Roadrunner Fireworks said the first week or so of fireworks season will be slow but business usually picks up closer to Independence Day. Stands close July 6.

Sharna Johnson

Despite restrictions, stands opened Monday with shelves stocked full of what vendors call “safe and sane” fireworks.

Most of the inventory available this year is what would typically be thought of as fireworks for children, said Michael Hall of Roadrunner Fireworks.

Open for business at the stand on U.S. 60/84 just outside of Texico, Hall said restrictions put in place by Curry County have eliminated anything that goes airborne.

June 14, county commissioners renewed a 30-day proclamation that banned everything a state statute allows counties to prohibit.

Drought and high fire risk have caused concern throughout the region with several communities in the state battling large wildland fires and fearing more.

In Curry County alone, more than 90,000 acres have burned in two fires since April.

Under the proclamation it is illegal to sell or use missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground audible devices.

Use of allowed fireworks is also restricted to paved areas and barren land or areas with a readily accessible source of water.

Violators can face a fine up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail.

Hall said the company he works for, which has three stands in the county, is serious about complying with the ban.

“We have nothing illegal, even on the property,” he said. “We’re not going to touch anything illegal — it ain’t worth it.”

Preventing residents from neighboring Texas communities — where all fireworks have been banned — from driving to Curry County to purchase fireworks is impossible, Hall said, but he plans to make sure customers are aware of the bans that are in place.

“I just want people to be safe. People can’t go hog nuts and start fires everywhere,” he said.

At another Roadrunner Fireworks stand on State Road 209, north of Clovis, Taylor Vest said the she’d had three customers in her first hour of business Monday.

She said the first week is usually slow, but she expects business will pick up as Independence Day draws closer.

The inventory allowed by the ban is predominately sparklers, snappers and fountains — things that are, “great for kids,” she said.

Vest said she gives each customer a safety handout with fire and injury prevention tips.

Vest’s coworker Andy Garcia said even a sparkler can start a fire and all fireworks should be done on pavement and extinguished in a bucket of water.

Fireworks permits have been issued for 10 locations in the county, with each vendor being sent a packet containing ban information, according to the Curry County Clerk’s Office.

Clovis Fire Marshall, Capt. Allan Silvers said vendor inspections have already begun and so far there have been no compliance issues.

Even though the fireworks being sold this year are often thought of as children’s fireworks, Silvers said people need to use extreme caution.

“(Most years) they’re the highest selling items and they’re what ends up in the hands of kids. You have the most inexperienced people handling the most common (fireworks),” he said.

“If people choose to celebrate the Fourth (of July) with fireworks this year they should be extremely careful,” he said. “Always have a source of water on site and I just can’t stress the safety enough. They just need to be careful.”