Officers prepare to catch violators of fireworks bans

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Roman Candles, bottle rockets, and hand-held sparklers promise to put some snap, crackle and boom into your Fourth of July.  But this holiday weekend, Harrison County has adopted strict rules on where you can set off those festive missiles.

"I think the public sees the problem that we have with the dry weather and so forth, drought. We're asking them to just support us and do their best in going down to the beach," said Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara.

The sheriff said extra deputies will be on duty this weekend to respond to complaints of fireworks in the county. Cities, like Biloxi, have banned fireworks for years. But don't expect officers to be so lax with the rules this time.

"We do a whole lot of warning is what we usually do. But I don't think we have that luxury this year," said Biloxi Police Chief John Miller. "The conditions are dry and really favorable for a massive fire, and possibly even loss of life. So I don't think we have any choice this year."

The punishment for breaking the fireworks ban varies from city to city and county to county. Violators could face a fine or even jail time.

"They could actually face time in jail if the judge deemed that necessary. But more than likely, it's I believe a $240 fine," said Miller.

"Possibly we'll do one warning first. It just depends on if it repeats. Then we might have to do the enforcement," said Brisolara. "They will be arrested and it is a misdemeanor, and they can be fined up to $500."

Officers are warning people not to take any risks.

"I know it's the Fourth of July where everyone wants to celebrate," said Miller. "You got to think about your neighbors. You got to think about your community right now."

They say by taking responsibility, we can make sure this Fourth of July is a fun celebration instead of a tragedy.

Residents in Harrison County can shoot fireworks from 5:00 PM on Friday, July 1, until midnight on Monday, July 4.  Again, fireworks are only allowed on the beach.

Waveland and Bay St. Louis are the latest cities to snuff out fireworks in certain areas this holiday weekend. Bay St. Louis will only allow fireworks on the beach from June 30th through July Fourth.  And the Waveland fire chief said fireworks will not be permitted within the city limits as long as the burn ban is in effect.

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