Originally created 07/01/00

City OKs fireworks on Fourth



NORTH AUGUSTA - Fireworks can go off in North Augusta on Independence Day even if the temporary ban against them still is in effect.

North Augusta Public Safety Director T. Lee Wetherington said city officials have decided to allow fireworks during the holidays.

"Due to the improved condition of the surface moisture content from the recent rains, the city of North Augusta will not enforce the ban on fireworks," Chief Wetherington said.

But he warned that conditions will continue to be monitored and, if the surface moisture level plummets to drought conditions, the ban will be on again. In addition, officials are readying an ordinance, expected to pass at the next meeting of city council, that authorizes a ban on fireworks anytime conditions warrant it, Chief Wetherington said.

The rains of recent days also have alleviated some of the worry that local fire officials feel any time fireworks are likely to be set off.

"We're always on standby and ready alert during any fireworks season, and I was getting very concerned before the rain," said Phil Napier, chief of the Graniteville-Warrenville-Vaucluse Fire Department. "Now conditions have been drastically improved."

Chief Napier cautioned extreme care always should be taken with fireworks, and that they never should be thrown from cars or shot off in wooded or grassy areas or toward houses.

Shooting off most firecrackers and other fireworks within the city limits of Aiken is prohibited, city officials said. According to the city code, only sparklers and so-called Chinese firecrackers, defined as no more than two inches long and ¨-inch in diameter, are allowed within the city.

Aiken County, on the other hand, has no ordinance against setting off fireworks in unincorporated areas.

And business is picking up at area fireworks stands like Millbrook Grocery and Fireworks on Whiskey Road, especially since last week's rains, operator Don Smathers said.

"We've got a good assortment here, but the most popular are sparklers for the kids and aerial shots for the adults," Mr. Smathers said.

Tips for fireworks:

Never shoot offfireworks in metal or glass containers.

Never throw fireworks at another person.

Never give fireworks to small children.

Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.

Light one firework at a time, and always have water handy.

Always read all directions.

Source: North Augusta Public Safety Director T. Lee Wetherington

Reach Pat Willis at (803) 279-6895.