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Emergency officials urge extra caution ahead of 4th of July weekend

Four of 53 counties in North Dakota have already issued a ban on private fireworks this year.

Fireworks are displayed as a part of Moorhead's 2020 Independence Day celebration at Horizon Shores Park. Forum file photo

FARGO — The familiar sound of fireworks will still be heard Sunday, July 4, as many public shows, like Moorhead's celebration and Bonanzaville's show in West Fargo, are expected to go on as scheduled.

Along with public displays, dozens flocked to Memory Fireworks near Horace, N.D., on Monday, June 28, to buy their own fireworks, even as the state is in a widespread drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

"We're still selling (fireworks), because eventually it's going to rain (here)," said David Reuter of Memory Fireworks. "We're not encouraging anyone to break the law, obviously."

The dry conditions have caused four North Dakota counties — Burleigh, Morton, Emmons and McIntosh — to ban using private fireworks completely.


"Sometimes (the bans are) frustrating, because we want to be able to celebrate the way we want to be able to celebrate the way we want to on (July 4), especially after a year like COVID," said Beth Hill, the acting outreach and education manager for the North Dakota Forest Service.

Cass County and Grand Forks County officials both said they won't be putting any firework ban in place this year, since the fire risk isn't high enough, according to North Dakota's fire danger map.

Cass County has a burn restriction in place, but it only goes into effect if the county is at least at a "very high" fire risk on the map or if a red flag warning is issued.

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Cass County Emergency Manager Jim Prochniak said people should be prepared for accidents on the 4th of July weekend. He suggested keeping something on hand at all times to extinguish fireworks and avoid the risk of sudden wildfire from sparks.

"There's always a risk with cinders, and depending on if the wind is blowing," this can escalate quickly, he said. "There's always dry grass out there somewhere."


Area cities have local guidelines for firework use.

Fargo residents can't shoot them inside city limits, according to city code.

Grand Forks' code shows residents can light them up in the city, as long as they have a permit.

In West Fargo, people can only shoot fireworks on July 4 itself between 8 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.

Moorhead and East Grand Forks residents have to follow Minnesota state guidelines, which means they can only use fireworks like sparklers and fountains, and not ones that can go up in the air.

Jim Smith, Minnesota's state fire marshal, said the best thing to do with sparklers and fountains is keep them as far away from the grass as possible.

"If you're going to use sparklers or anything that is legal in Minnesota, please do it on your driveway," he said. "If they're on the driveway, where they should be, it's a lot more controllable."

Even though fire risk in both eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota are minimal as of June 28, Prochniak said that can change on a dime.


He added people should keep on top of those levels if they're looking to light up the night sky on July 4.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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