Opening of Houston fireworks stands ‘highly unlikely’

The Sockeye Fire is nearly contained, and fires continue to burn throughout the state.  Now, many are questioning whether or not fireworks will be available and legal for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  The state has lifted its fireworks ban, with the exception of Western Alaska.  Many municipal and borough restrictions are still in place, however.

Robert Hall is the owner of Gorilla Fireworks, which operates stands in Houston and North Pole.  He says it is almost certain that the North Pole stand will not open, and doubtful that the city of Houston will lift its ban on the sale of fireworks.

“[It is] very unlikely that we’ll open in Houston. They’ll make a final decision on Thursday based on a lot of different factors, not just weather.”

Hall says one of those factors is the strain that the Sockeye and other fires have placed on fire departments in the Mat-Su Borough.  He also says consideration for the victims of the Sockeye Fire will play a role.

“These people in Willow are friends of ours.  Our kids went to school with their kids.  They’ve been through an awful lot, and that’s a consideration, too.”

Currently, the sale of fireworks is banned in the City of Houston.  A final decision from the city is expected on Thursday.  Robert Hall says the city consults with the state’s Division of Forestry and local fire departments to make its decisions regarding fireworks.

“I’m very comfortable that the City of Houston will make the right decision, and that, if they made the decision today, it would be not to open firework stands.”

Hall says that, if the Houston stands do open, that they will only be selling sparklers, fountains, and other fireworks that are not designed to leave the ground.

Whether or not fireworks are available for sale this week, the Mat-Su Borough has placed a ban on use of fireworks, and borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan says code enforcement officers will be patrolling over the course of the weekend.