Burn Ban Makes Shooting Off Fireworks "Risky Business"

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 20, 2012 Updated Jun 20, 2012 at 6:08 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- During this extremely dry 4th of July season, people shooting off fireworks in Allen County could pay the price in a big way.

It’s a risky practice that is even more dangerous this year, and local government officials are prepared to drive that point home.

A local emergency burn ban declaration put into effect by the Allen County Commissioners last week, will most likely be extended on Friday for at least one more week.

Among the provisions, if you're caught lighting fireworks--even if it's on your private property--you could be hit with a fine of up to $2,500.

Phantom Fireworks in north Fort Wayne is pressing ahead with sales of devices that rocket into the sky and go "boom", products like "Phandemonium" and "Pyrotechnic Motherload".

But right now, in Allen County and other surrounding counties, burn bans make it illegal to shoot the things off.

Phantom’s store manager says sales have really not dropped off much.

But he concedes customers want to know more before they make purchases.

Travis Miller/Phantom Fireworks Manager: " It's definitely a question, because they're not real current on the laws, so I have to kind of keep up with it myself to let them know, yes, there is a burn ban in effect. When they ask what time it's going to be lifted, I can't answer that. That's up to the rain. It's a very bad idea to be lighting any pyrotechnic devices in weather like this."

But Miller says it isn’t stopping people from stocking up on fireworks, figuring that the ban will be lifted before the 4th, or that they'll shoot them off whether it’s legal or not.

On a web site sponsored by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, 37 of 92 Hoosier counties on Wednesday were shown to have burn bans in force, with the greatest concentration of them in Northeast Indiana.

Only Wells County in this area does not currently have some form of burn ban in place.

Allen County officials anticipate addressing their burn ban declaration at a meeting on Friday.

Besides extending the law, some of the provisions may be made clearer.

Even if we get no rain, expect several counties to modify their emergency declarations the week preceding the 4th of July, permitting professionally supervised public fireworks displays to be held in conjunction with the holiday.

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