Legal fireworks OK under fire ban

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— The use of legal fireworks in the city and the county isn't banned over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, despite the fact that countywide fire restrictions are in place.

"We encourage everyone to use caution because it's really dry out there," said Routt County Sheriff John Warner.

The city will hold its annual fireworks display on Howelsen Hill at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 4.

Leading up to Independence Day, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks those that explode or leave the ground, like bottle rockets. Toy cannons, black cartridges and Roman candles also are illegal, Warner said.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office will have extra staff on hand this weekend and on the Fourth of July to write citations for anyone using illegal fireworks. Steamboat Springs police also will be out looking for suspicious fireworks displays and illegal fireworks, Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said.

Fireworks for sale at local booths should be legal, Fiebing said. City officials inspect the booths before issuing the appropriate permits. Fireworks bought from out of state are probably illegal, Fiebing said.

"It's not the legal fireworks that we usually have any problems with," Warner said. "A lot of the problems that we have is with the stuff that comes out of Wyoming."

However, legal fireworks can cause problems, too, Warner cautions. If someone starts a fire using a firework that person could be fined $100 and have to pay for the cost of fighting the fire.That's because there are fire restrictions in place throughout the county. The restrictions limit campfires to designated areas.

Fourth-degree arson, which has a potential for jail time, also can be charged against a person who sets a fire with fireworks, Warner said.

"To those that are going to use legal fireworks use caution," Warner said. "By using fireworks, you are taking on a responsibility and a liability."

People caught with illegal fireworks can be fined $50 to $750 and face possible jail time, Fiebing said.

The police department's highest priority is keeping fireworks out of the hands of children. It is illegal for those younger than 16 to buy fireworks, Fiebing said, and adults can't purchase fireworks for children unless they supervise the use.

"We want everyone to have fun, but be safe," Fiebing said. "Use common sense."

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