HELENA – Helena city leaders have a reminder ahead of the Fourth of July holiday: Don’t set off fireworks within the city.
City ordinances don’t allow anyone to light fireworks in city limits, including at the county fairgrounds. The Helena Police Department will have officers on the streets checking for violations.
“We’re out patrolling, and when we see fireworks go off, that’s the dead giveaway,” said Lt. Jayson Zander. “When we see the lights and the sparks going off, we will actually go and look for and try to find out those violations.”
Zander says a fireworks citation can come with a fine, at the discretion of the city court judge.
People are allowed to possess consumer fireworks in the city, but only up to $50 worth, and only if they’re 18 or older.
Fireworks can be set off in unincorporated parts of Lewis and Clark County, though there are some restrictions in county parks.
Sheriff Leo Dutton said deputies may contact people if they receive a number of noise complaints.
“If you’re beginning to annoy multiple neighbors, we’re going to ask you to stop,” he said.
In East Helena, city officials allow people to light fireworks between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. from July 1 to July 3, and from 10 a.m. to midnight on the Fourth of July.
Firefighters are asking anyone who does use fireworks to be careful, especially around children. Helena fire marshal Lou Antonick says about 14,000 people a year are injured in fireworks accidents.
Experts also estimate more than 18,000 fires annually are caused by fireworks. Antonick said, even though conditions haven’t been as dry as other years, people shouldn’t let their guard down.
“Wildland fire season is here,” he said. “We have had a lot of moisture, and it is cooler temperatures right now, but there’s a significant amount more fuel that’s out there.”
Antonick said anyone setting off fireworks should do it in an open area away from vegetation, and keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby.