Independence Day, one of the most popular days of the year to set off fireworks, is coming at a time this year when Louisiana is under a statewide burn ban enacted because of the drought.
Despite the burn ban, which began May 31, state Fire Marshal Butch Browning said individual parishes and municipalities will decide whether it’s legal to set off fireworks.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to tell local areas if they can have fireworks or not,” Browning said.
He also said state law mandates that parish and municipal officials decide whether it’s legal to sell fireworks.
Browning said the burn ban is in place to stop grass fires and wildfires.
“Fires caused by fireworks account for less than one percent of fires in Louisiana,” while trash fires and other rubbish fires account for more than 60 percent of wildfires and grass fires, Browning said.
Browning and his office are encouraging families to attend professional, public fireworks displays on July Fourth.
Browning urged people to practice caution if they set off fireworks.
“Safe fireworks do not exist,” Browning said in a news release. “When things go wrong, they go wrong very fast, and often with disastrous consequences.”
Permanent scarring, loss of vision and injuries to a person’s hands or head can occur if people are not familiar with the fireworks they are setting off, Browning said.
Even sparklers, Browning said, often considered harmless, can reach temperatures in excess of 1,200 degrees.
“The few moments of pleasure consumer fireworks bring are not worth the risk of property loss, injury or death,” Browning said.
One of the biggest public fireworks displays in the Baton Rouge metro area is “Fireworks on the Mississippi” sponsored by The Advocate and WBRZ-TV.
The fireworks display over the Mississippi River starts at 9 p.m. Monday in downtown Baton Rouge.
Browning said that if it is legal to set off fireworks in an area, residents need to:
• Read and follow the label directions;
• Have a hose or bucket filled with water nearby;
• Never light fireworks in your hand;
• Light one at a time;
• Don’t point fireworks at people, pets, cars or buildings;
• Keep 300 feet away from buildings, cars and dry vegetation when setting off fireworks.
It is legal to set off fireworks in the unincorporated areas of Ascension, Livingston, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, and West Feliciana, and Lafayette parishes, and the municipalities of Clinton, Jackson, Plaquemine, and St. Francisville — from 6 p.m. to midnight on July 4.
It is illegal to set off fireworks in East Baton Rouge Parish, Central, Baker, Zachary, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Denham Springs, New Roads, Port Allen, and the city of Lafayette.
Browning said those unsure whether it is legal to set off fireworks in a particular area can find out by contacting the local fire department.