Take a holiday weekend, mix with an ongoing drought, sprinkle with a few fireworks and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a wildfire.
Scott Hawkins, spokesman for the South Carolina Forestry Commission says phone calls about the legality of fireworks are coming in to the agency. Some callers are asking the agency to ban fireworks.
Certainly our agency doesn’t ban fireworks because we don’t have the legal authority to do that and I don’t know if we would if we did have the authority. Fireworks laws tend to be written on the local level, so folks who want to use them should check with their local fire department.
South Carolina has had some rain and some storms scattered around the state, but Hawkins says it’s not enough to ease the fire risk.
We do want to encourage people to be extremely careful. Unlike some years past, where we’ve had plenty of rainfall, this summer we have what we’re calling an extended fire season due to the drought. It’s a serious situation because all the fuels on the ground are dry. We haven’t gotten enough rain anywhere in the state to really make sure the fire risk is low.
Even if it’s accidental, Hawkins says you can be held criminally responsible if you cause a fire.
While we want everyone to have a great time this holiday weekend, we’re really hoping people are conscientious of the fact that fireworks are incendiary devices, and even if it’s an accident, if you cause a fire with them, you’re liable to be held criminally and perhaps financially responsible.
A recent push by the Commission for stricter penalties in the state’s courtrooms has resulted in an increase in the average fine from that of a little less than $100 to nearly $280.