July 4th fireworks cancellations lead to big business for retail stores

DNR shares concerns about at-home usage of fireworks
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 6:01 PM CDT
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Livingston, Wis. (WMTV) -The sky on the Fourth of July won’t look the same for many communities. With so many fireworks shows canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have resorted to buying their own fireworks.

“Every public display has been canceled,” Jeri Kastner, owner of Kastner Pyrotechnics Fireworks Wholesale & Imports LLC said. “So that’s the common theme, they walk in and say, ‘well I can’t go downtown and watch fireworks this fourth, so we’re doing it in the backyard.’”

The official numbers are not in yet, but the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) reports that fireworks sales are off to a record-breaking start.

"This is kind of normal sales for me, but what I am seeing are some new faces, and old faces that are maybe buying more than they're used to because maybe they're doing something special at home," Kastner said.

However, the uptick in sales and possible lack of know-how is a concern for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"We can speculate that folks will be home and using fireworks this weekend," Catherine Koele, Wildfire Prevention Specialist said. "Anytime the ground is not snow-covered there is potential for a wildfire."

Even though the fire risk is moderate to low in Wisconsin this week, the Koele said there were 11 wildfires caused by fireworks in June, not including urban areas. The Madison Fire Department said they did not see any wildfires as a result of fireworks, but Koele said that could change this weekend.

“When you use fireworks, there’s a lot of erratic behavior that can happen with them, and they can end up in dry grass,” Koele said. “The DNR is going to be staffing for fire suppression.”

Knowing that the danger is out there for new buyers, Kastner has done what she can to keep her customers safe.

"It's really important for people to understand what they're buying and how it works, all of my customers are told how to use their item," Kastner said.

When questioning whether something is legal, just remember: ‘if it goes up or blows up’ you need a permit.

You do not usually need a permit to use some of the smaller items like sparklers or fountains, but you should check with your local city ordinance to check what’s legal well ahead of your celebration.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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