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Burn ban stifles firework displays in Oklahoma

Drought conditions across the state have cities tightening the restrictions on personal firework use too, and some have even canceled their public fireworks displays for fear of starting fires.
BY ANN KELLEY Staff Writer akelley@opubco.com Modified: July 1, 2011 at 7:54 am •  Published: July 1, 2011
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/articleid/3581961/1/pictures/1455913">Photo - FIREWORKS SALES: Josh Chavez at the fireworks stand he operates with other members of OKC Family Church. The church uses  fireworks sales as a fundraiser for the church. located at 8300 S Shields in Oklahoma City.  Chavez says the church sets up the fireworks stand on the southeast corner of NE 23 and Post Road in Nicoma Park city limits because this is the nearest location to the church where fireworks can be sold legally. He said this is the sixth year the church has opened its stand at the same location. Chavez is an associate pastor at the south Oklahoma City church. He was photographed at the stand Thursday afternoon, June 30, 2011.    Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
FIREWORKS SALES: Josh Chavez at the fireworks stand he operates with other members of OKC Family Church. The church uses fireworks sales as a fundraiser for the church. located at 8300 S Shields in Oklahoma City. Chavez says the church sets up the fireworks stand on the southeast corner of NE 23 and Post Road in Nicoma Park city limits because this is the nearest location to the church where fireworks can be sold legally. He said this is the sixth year the church has opened its stand at the same location. Chavez is an associate pastor at the south Oklahoma City church. He was photographed at the stand Thursday afternoon, June 30, 2011. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

“It was a compromise,” City Manager Robert Floyd said. “A lot of clubs depend on the sales to help their organizations and we're not out to ruin anyone's holiday.”

Forest said most of his stands are run by school groups, churches and even a volunteer fire department as fundraisers.

Oklahoma City Family Church uses the profits from its stand near Nicoma Park to help churches in Third World countries, and those in the United States recently struck by natural disasters.

Assistant Pastor Josh Chavez, 36, of Moore said they're telling people about burn ban restrictions and cautioning them to be careful in dry areas.

Valley Brook will allow fireworks to be lit at designated areas on Jody Street.

Valley Brook Town Clerk Christian Collins said a city lot and a schoolyard are barricaded off for firework use. The area is policed, and firefighters are stationed there to handle potential fires.

Fireworks continue to be prohibited in most cities, including Oklahoma City, Moore, Shawnee, Yukon, Norman, Edmond, Midwest City, Kingfisher and Del City.

Oklahoma City Assistant Fire Marshal Harold Thompson said the fine for setting off fireworks in the city limits is $177 to $1,200, depending on the severity of the offense.

Thompson said the state also may impose fines up to $500, and fire starters are held financially responsible for any property damage they cause.

“The best bet is still to go to public displays,” Thompson said. “It's safe, controlled and doesn't cost people a penny.”


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