Lack of rain hurting coast fireworks sales

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - As long as the burn bans remain in effect, Fourth of July fireworks are off limits in most places around South Mississippi. And for the folks who make a living selling things that go boom, a drought could mean going bust.

You can buy fireworks in Bay St. Louis and in the unincorporated areas of Hancock County, but in Waveland you can find three mobile fireworks stands set up, but not in business.

"The fireworks ordinance the city adopted years ago doesn't allow for the sale or use of fireworks during a burn ban," said Chief Mike Smith with the Waveland Fire Department.

That news has Wanda Arrington in a real jam. Her Missouri company, Hales Fireworks, has hauled three fireworks stands to Waveland and leased property in three locations.

"I will have to try to do a back up plan or else we'll just lose this whole season," said Arrington.

If that happens, she says 14 Waveland residents will miss out on good paying temporary jobs.

"All of my people are getting anxious to open because we're down to the wire now. So if we don't open, I've got to go find more land to get these people back to work."

Arrington said it will be tough to lease land and purchase permits in neighboring cities this late. She estimates her company could lose nearly $100,000 if the burn ban holds.

"Who you going to get angry at? You're certainly not going to get angry at Mother Nature because that's the Lord's work. And the city officials, they have to do what they have to, so I'm not angry at them."

"[There's] too much brush and debris left from Katrina to take that chance," said Chief Smith.

Arlington understands that, but right now it's out of her hands.

"That's our best shot, just praying for a lot of rain," Arlington said.

Here's a reminder of how the burn bans are impacting 4th of July fireworks.

  • No sales or use in Waveland as long as the burn ban remains.
  • Bay St. Louis will only allow fireworks on the beach from June 30th through July 4th.
  • Harrison County is limiting fireworks to the beach, and only for the 4th of July weekend.
  • Jackson County says no fireworks are to be used anywhere in the unincorporated areas of the county.

And by the way, most cities and Diamondhead, already prohibit the use of fireworks inside city limits.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.