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6:09 AM Sun, Dec. 16th

Fireworks ban sparks discussion among Mohave County leaders

Courtesy

Courtesy

KINGMAN - With the Fourth of July holiday only two weeks away, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors banned the use Monday of consumer fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county.

The ban will take place on land that has been declared a high fire danger by the Mohave County Division of Emergency Management or when a state or federal agency has implemented Stage One fire restrictions, which are in effect now. The restrictions are caused by ongoing drought, very dry vegetation, high winds and worsening fire conditions.

Although a ban on the use of consumer fireworks was put in place last year, this is the first time the county has had the authority to issue a ban on the sale of consumer fireworks. That's because of Senate Bill 1158, which was passed in April and allows Arizona counties to regulate the sale of fireworks. The city of Kingman has banned the sale of fireworks, citing the same state law.

Dave Glass, owner of Round Eyes Fireworks in Desert Hills, tried to convince the board that voting in favor of the amendment would hurt his businesses. Glass said his company sells about nine tons of fireworks during the July 4 holiday, and the county hasn't given him enough time to deal with the change.

"This amendment will directly affect our sales and income, and it will put a burden on us," said Glass, noting Desert Hills Fire District has given its blessing on fireworks sales at his businesses. "The company has already purchased the fireworks and was intending on selling them."

Board Chairwoman Hildy Angius, District 2, confirmed the fire district's support of consumer fireworks sales there. In a letter to the board, district officials said there have been no known fires because of fireworks. Angius said she couldn't see punishing businesses that sell fireworks because of new legislation.

Emergency Management Officer Byron Steward said the use of fireworks was banned last year at elevations of 2,000 feet or higher, but this year the ban is covering all four fire zones in Mohave County because of extreme fire danger. Steward said he didn't have a problem making an exception to a fire district if it indicated there was no problem.

"To me, it doesn't make sense to have a prohibition on the use of fireworks and still allow them to be sold," said Steward. "To me, that's sending a double message. I understand that people can go next door and buy it from another jurisdiction, but they're buying them from that jurisdiction, and we are taking care of the safety issue in our jurisdiction. Whatever happens in the cities is up to them."

Supervisor Steve Moss, District 5, said he followed the legislation and discussed it with supervisors in other counties. Moss said he agreed with the need for it in Yavapai and Coconino counties, which are largely forested and fear the fires.

But Mohave County is another story.

"When it comes to Mohave County, I've never been in favor of us enacting such a prohibition," said Moss "I don't like Mohave County becoming like the great state of California.

"This is still America, and if a kid wants to light up a firecracker, I want him to be able to do that, like I used to do. I just don't like this amendment, philosophically."