Fire officials urge safety ahead of Fourth of July weekend

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 7:17 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - People across the country are preparing for the Fourth of July weekend, and of course, one major holiday tradition is the lighting of fireworks.

Greenville’s deputy fire marshal says on average, there are more than 19,000 fires across the nation every Fourth of July because of fireworks. He doesn’t discourage people from using them but does ask that people show care and caution to light them safely.

Unpacking boxes of fireworks is a daily routine for Chris Penhollow, who says he’s a teacher at Washington High School for most of the year, but during the summer, he’s a fireworks salesman.

“This company emails school teachers because they know we have our summers off and they’ll pull the permits and set up the tents and once they drop it, it’s yours to watch until the 4th,” Penhollow said.

Still, Penhollow doesn’t recommend people buy fireworks at the last second.

“Last year, we were sold out by 1:00 on the 4th. I probably have about 30 people come up and they weren’t happy because we didn’t have the product, but we sit out here for 12, 13 days and you may wanna get out there a little bit earlier and pick out what you want before it’s all picked through,” Penhollow said.

In line with being prepared, it’s important to know which types of fireworks are legal in North Carolina.

“The illegal fireworks are anything that explodes or shoots off in the air or spins on the ground,” Alfred Everington, Greenville deputy fire marshal said. “Legal fireworks are anything such as sparklers or anything that shoots off a ray of sparks.”

The penalty for using illegal fireworks?

“They can be charged with a misdemeanor for up to a $500 fine and up to six months in prison,” Everington said.

Everington says due to the massive number of fires each year on this holiday, it’s crucial that people light the legal kinds of fireworks.

The deputy fire marshal also encourages everyone to stop by the Greenville Town Common to attend its fireworks show on the Fourth, instead of setting off fireworks at home. That celebration starts at 3 p.m. on the 4th and the fireworks are expected at 9:15 p.m.

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