Drought could dry up fireworks sales

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - At Coast Fireworks, you can find any kind of fireworks imaginable, from big to small, and everything in between. What is hard to find are customers. The drought and burn ban have made sure of that.

"They ask where they can shoot them, if it's legal to shoot them, or whatever, because there's been a lot of confusion out there already," store owner Leonard Cooper said. "Different people have wrote this and wrote that and said that, but it will impact sales as long as the fire ban is there."

The same holds true at Suzie's Fireworks. Sales are down. But for those who do buy, manager Joshua Purvines has some sound advice.

"I would say in these conditions, shoot them off on the asphalt, not in your yard, but in the street. And make sure when you do it, be safe about it," Purvines said. "Make sure the smaller kids have the right fireworks for their age group."

Everywhere you look, vegetation is tinder box dry, brown and shriveled.  And with little rain in the forecast, that won't change anytime soon. Even in normal years, fires caused by fireworks are a problem.

"Years back, we actually had a house that was caught on fire because of a bottle rocket," Ocean Springs Fire Chief Jeff Ponson recalled. "It had pine straw on the house and caught the house on fire."

It is illegal to shoot fireworks in most coast cities, including Ocean Springs. But quite frankly, the practice has been winked at and rarely enforced.  Because of the drought though, this year may be a lot different, according to Lt. John Flowers with the Ocean Springs Police Department.

"We have to be concerned about the well being of the general public," Flowers said. "We want everyone to have an enjoyable holiday, but with the conditions the way they are, we don't think it's wise to pop fireworks."

Fire officials we talked to also suggest that if you are planning on shooting off fireworks on the Fourth, you do it on the beachfront over open water.

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