When bad things happen along the way to celebrating the 4th of July

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

We live in an area where we can sit outside at night and be able to see our neighbors’ fireworks from a safe distance yet close and clear enough to appreciate them. We don’t use fireworks ourselves because of the possible danger. We also live in a town where Fireworks are a major product and sales go crazy long about the second and third of this month. I don’t know if those stores are open all year long because I’ve never been in them, and never intend to buy any for myself; and no one else who lives here would buy any either, but if you drive into the heart of our small town of Pahrump you can see the many cars parked there (totally filling up the parking area available and then some) and the people lined up in very long lines to buy their small-scale sparklers and explosives, and more, many of which are illegal even in Las Vegas. I even know of one person who drove seven hours to get here to buy the kind of fireworks that not only are illegal to use in his state, but cannot be found anywhere else.
It was a relatively quiet night as far as our dogs were concerned; they usually get very upset from all the noise and need lots of attention on this night of loud sounds every few minutes or even seconds. But truth be told, as they’ve been getting older, their ears do not pick up the noise as much as they used to. So while they were fine inside, we decided to all go outside and enjoy the show from our patio, all safe and comfy and away from any flying sparks or such.
Anyway, as we were sitting there and enjoying, to a certain extent, the familiar explosions of flash and falling bursts of white, red, and blue, and whatever other colors were built into the fireworks, I went inside and my daughter came and told me that one of the neighbors’ homes, within a short walking distance from our place, was on fire! We could see the flames, and obviously, the fire department had been called. Apparently this is not all that rare on the evening of the 4th
of July, whether here, in Las Vegas, or elsewhere, and the fire departments are on their toes to be sure to keep those carelessly started fires from getting out of hand.
Here’s a few brief notes about fireworks purchase and use in Nye County, which includes Pahrump, the apparent Fireworks Mecca for miles around: “Yes, it is legal to purchase fireworks that are not “Safe-N-Sane” in Nye County (which includes Pahrump). But strangely, Nye County prohibits the possession or use of any type of fireworks there. It is illegal even to possess or use “Safe and Sane” fireworks in Nye County…”
(Remember the “old” days when one could go to a head shop and purchase all kinds of paraphernalia for use with various forms of cannabis, but one could still not use any of it, or even be caught with it. Well, those days are still with us, on the federal level, even though cannabis is now allowed in certain states.)
“It is illegal to use — or even to possess — dangerous fireworks without a permit. … ‘Dangerous’ fireworks include large items such as rockets and sparklers bigger than ten inches in length or one-quarter inch in diameter. ‘Safe and sane’ fireworks include small items such as fountains, spinners, and snap caps. (As of Apr. 17, 2020)
“So people who buy fireworks in Nye County have to sign a waiver pledging that the fireworks will be taken outside of Nye County within 24 hours.” (Possessing illegal fireworks is a Nevada misdemeanor carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.)
A little more from online info about fireworks: “Those who know about fireworks know that Pahrump is the only place to buy them. Not only do we feature five of the original fireworks retailers, we offer a wide variety of aerial fireworks, fountains, and fireworks assortments. And after your purchase, you can buy and shoot fireworks right in Pahrump at our safe and supervised fireworks launch site*.”
Now back to the other side of obtaining those fireworks—using them and the problems they can cause. Item in a Pahrump publication: PAHRUMP, Nev. (KSNV) — As firefighters continue to contain small fires set off across the Las Vegas valley, crews in Pahrump are sending a stern message to Nye County residents.
“Stop shooting aerial fireworks,” the agency said late Saturday night, adding that it will not hesitate to search, cite or arrest anyone found launching the fireworks.
According to Pahrump Valley Fire Rescue, several hours into Saturday night have been “horrific” for firefighters and said “this must stop, immediately.”
It’s uplifting to know that so many people still care enough about Independence Day to want to shout out with joy and exaltation to celebrate that event. But are they really joining in spirit with our Founding Fathers and all those who worked so hard to make it happen back in 1776, or are they using the day as an excuse to break the law and take the risk of causing fire damage to buildings or land, possibly even hurting themselves and others. It is not a happy thing to be watching the “rockets red glare, bursting in air,” (to borrow a few words from a well known song) that can cause untold damage for no other reason than to please the parties who are putting on the show.
(In the end, the cost of those fireworks will need to include the cost of the fire department sending out one, two, or even three engines, the cost of the actual damage for repairs, the cost of the property lost that needs to be replaced, and the cost of the legal fines and/or the time you might have to spend in jail. Is it worth it?
Yes, we have enjoyed them in the past, and thank goodness there are videos of some of the greatest of those shows around to be seen again and again, but at what cost do we continue to use those fireworks today? If they could be used without concern for starting any fires or causing any damage to persons or property, no one would complain or try to stop it, but alas, that simply is not the case.
Hopefully, you will never be harmed by your own fireworks or those of your neighbor, but what if you were? Right now I can hear you saying, “But I’m always so careful.” Don’t you think our neighbors thought they were being careful too?
Someone once told me that we, people at large, don’t pay enough attention to warnings. Well, we have that choice. Ignore warnings and maybe get hurt or worse. Ignore warnings and maybe burn down your house. Pay attention to warnings, and find a safer way to celebrate our very special day. Our Founding Fathers would understand and you will likely be around for many more safe Independence Days to come!
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramistribune@gmail.com.

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