Police: Use fireworks legally

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2003

It's Independence Day and that's the time when things go "Bang!"

A relaxation in Minnesota law has allowed more things to explode legally, but there are still severe restrictions.

According to Austin Police Chief Paul M. Philipp, only non-aerial and non-exploding fireworks are legal.

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These fireworks must not leave the ground and are essentially brightly-colored illumination devices or the familiar "snakes" or "smoke bombs" as well as sparklers.

All others, including bottle rockets and Roman candles, are illegal.

In addition, the police chief warns none of the legal fireworks can be discharged on any public property such as streets, roadways, parks or school playgrounds.

All must be ignited on private property.

The change in Minnesota law has created a -- no pun intended -- booming business for fireworks dealers. From Double K Specialty to Main Street Drug at Sterling Shopping Center to the 18th Avenue NW area, tents and trailers are selling the fireworks.

In addition, grocery stores and discount stores also have displays to sell.

Both the police chief and Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi report their departments are receiving complaints about the noise and discharges, but not an above average amount.

Fireworks displays will be a part of the city of Austin's Heart of America Festival tonight and later this weekend.

Every community in the area will have its own fireworks displays by authorized personnel.

Drivers beware

Also tonight and throughout the Independence Day holiday weekend, two separate saturations by law enforcement officers are taking place.

In Austin, the Safe and Sober campaign is underway to target impaired drivers.

At Blooming Prairie, Operation NightCAP will do the same tonight.

Both efforts will focus on drivers operating motor vehicles in impaired status and vehicles with visible equipment failures.

The Austin effort is headed by Lt. John Mueller and will involve intensive patrols throughout the evening.

The Blooming Prairie effort will involve multiple law enforcement agencies as well as the Minnesota State Patrol.

Fires investigated

Austin firefighters were called to the Jeffrey Austin residence at 1008 Sixth Ave. NW early Thursday.

Austin reported a fire in his upstairs bedroom. He was awakened by an alarm clock, smelled smoke and called 9-1-1, according to the report.

A piece of electrical equipment on a nightstand is believed to be the origin of the fire.

Fire Chief Dan Wilson said firefighters were able to contain the 5:50 a.m. Thursday fire to the upstairs bedroom, although extensive smoke damage was reported throughout the upstairs portion of the home.

Also, Wilson said the State Fire Marshal's investigator concluded a fire at Bremerton Townhomes originated in a chair in a downstairs living room of the unit.

The occupant of the unit has been gone for two weeks.

Again, Austin firefighters were able to contain the Bremerton Townhomes fire to the room of origin.

That fire occurred early Wednesday morning, according to the Austin Fire Department's report.

Both fires prompted the fire chief to issue another warning about the need for smoke detectors and alarms.

He encouraged citizens to contact the Austin Fire Department at 433-3405 for more information.

The department makes regular visits to residents to ensure smoke detector sound alarms are in property working order.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com