Sunday, May 19, 2013
Hefty Fines Accompany Illegally Lit Fireworks
As Southcentral residents flock to buy fireworks and gear up to shoot them off, public safety officers are getting ready to write them tickets.
The bursts of color and noise that light up the sky are almost as much a part of Fourth of July celebrations as the American flag.
As Southcentral residents flock to buy fireworks and gear up to shoot them off, public safety officials are getting ready to write them tickets.
That’s because in both the Municipality of Anchorage and in the Mat-Su Valley, fireworks are illegal.
The only exception? The city of Houston where they are sold.
At Gorilla Fireworks, customers can choose from an array of firecrackers, sparklers and other festive fare.
“I’m not going to be shooting off nothing big or fancy. Just a few little firecrackers,” said Wasilla resident Steve Powell.
But bright postings warn customers that shooting off those fireworks can come with a cost.
“We tell them what we can. We know where it is and isn’t. The rest is up to them,” said Samantha Parsons, manager of Gorilla Fireworks.
Within the Municipality of Anchorage, people caught lighting fireworks face a $300 fine, and in the Valley it's even higher—up to $500 per person, according to Kendra Johnson, Mat-Su code compliance chief.
“Usually it is who we catch lighting them. If we don’t know who the exact person was, it usually falls onto the property owner," Johnson explained.
Fireworks are a class 3 explosive, and safety officials say fireworks can be unpredictable, which is what makes them so dangerous.
“Fireworks are very easy to get out of hand. If you remember back in 2008, we had a month of rain in June and three days of drying and then we had a 10-acre fire right in the middle of town at the Piper Street fire," said Anchorage Fire Department Chief Mark Hall.
Despite the risk and the possibility of dishing out hefty fines, Alaskans from all over are getting set to light up their holiday weekend with fireworks.
Mat-Su code compliance officers will be patrolling the Valley this weekend on a complaints-based basis, and Anchorage police officers will be issuing citations on their regular beats for any illegal fireworks displays.