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Georgia cities weigh July 4th fireworks bans

Parched conditions in Georgia could mean no fireworks displays on Independence Day.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Parched conditions in Georgia could mean no fireworks displays on Independence Day.

Some cities are considering canceling major fireworks shows if the extreme drought conditions in the state don't improve. Ware County is under a two-month fireworks ban, which covered Memorial Day and will also include the Fourth of July.

In Roswell the city council will cancel the holiday fireworks display next Friday if there is no rain by then, said city spokeswoman Julie Brechbill. Some other cities are also waiting on the weather before making a final decision.

"I'm not sure what our recommendation is going to be," said Deputy Chief Bruce Satterfield with the Dalton Fire Department. "Our drought, coupled with low humidity and high winds _ that is really a recipe for disaster."

Fire officials are particularly concerned in south Georgia near the wildfires that have charred more than 600,000 acres of swamp and timberland since they began nearly two months ago. In Valdosta, about 50 miles from the blazes, fire Chief J.D. Rice said the city council likely will make a decision on holiday fireworks in the next couple of weeks.

"We are still planning to do the show," said Christine Parker, spokeswoman for Stone Mountain Park, which has one of the largest fireworks shows in the state. "We'll re-evaluate it as it gets closer to the date."

The major displays are overseen by fire departments and have more safety precautions than the illegal fireworks set off privately in many neighborhoods, said Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine. It's the latter kind of pyrotechnics that concern state fire officials, he said.

"Those are an extreme hazard," he said. "Fireworks often sold in other states have higher amounts of gunpowder. Those are considered to be a higher fire hazard."

The state has no authority to stop communities from putting on holiday fireworks shows, so it's up to municipal governments to make the decision, Oxendine said.