Officials urge caution with fireworks

Russell Anglin

By Russell Anglin

Quay County Sun

Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry expressed concern Monday over the upcoming Independence Day celebrations in Quay County.

“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday, but because of our extreme drought and dry conditions … we have issued a proclamation, the city commission has, limiting fireworks.”

The proclamation bans all aerials and ground audible fireworks, including black cats, roman candles, bottle rockets and other projectile-type fireworks. Fireworks like sparklers and fountains can still be sold and possessed legally.

“It’s called ‘safe and sane’ fireworks. The safest we’re allowing because you put them on the ground and they stay right there. They’re not mobile at all. There’s still extreme dangers on that so we want to encourage everybody to make sure they’re in a barren area,” Cherry said.

Tucumcari Police Chief Jason Braziel said possession or sale of banned fireworks is a petty misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $500. He said city police will be patrolling for violations in the days leading up to the July 4 holiday.

“We’ve got to do it,” he said.

Cherry said the safest way to light fireworks is to use the “punk” lighters that fireworks vendors carry. These smoldering sticks stay lit for an extended period of time and are safer because they do not require an open flame.

“Also, responsible adults should light them,” Cherry said. “Have buckets of water nearby. Don’t ever try to relight a dud. The best place to put (duds) is in a bucket of water.”

Even sparklers carry a potential fire risk if thrown or otherwise mishandled.

“The big thing is … you’re going to be liable for where that goes if it starts a fire or sets a house on fire or anything,” Cherry said. “You can be liable for that, especially since there’s a ban.”

Despite dangerously dry conditions, Logan and Tucumcari will each host fireworks displays this week. Logan’s will take place Saturday evening and Tucumcari’s will take place Monday.

“There’s some places that have gone ahead and banned their show, but we thought it would be safer here because we’re going to have help from area fire departments. District 1 and district 2 always sends some engines in and equipment in to help … as well as us (the city department) and then we go out and patrol the city also, so there will be a lot of firefighters show up in force.”

The most important thing, Cherry said, is to use common sense.

“Be safe and just take extra, extra precautions this year because of the dry conditions,” he said.