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County considers a fireworks ban

The drought is forcing county commissioners to look at denying all permits for the traditional displays in unincorporated areas.

By BRIDGET HALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 2, 2000


INVERNESS -- The casualties of this year's drought are everywhere: the wilted lawns, the dried-up lakes, the acres of earth scorched by brushfires.

Now the drought threatens to snuff out fireworks throughout the county.

County commissioners on Tuesday will consider a proposal to ban the use of fireworks, flares and sparklers until the drought eases.

The measure would not affect the sale of fireworks, but it would prevent the county from issuing permits for fireworks displays in unincorporated parts of the county.

If the ban passed, anyone caught setting off fireworks would face a second-degree misdemeanor charge, carrying a maximum $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

The ban would be part of a declaration of local emergency, which is only good for seven days unless the commission chairman extends it.

The county's proposed fireworks ban comes in the wake of a decision by Inverness officials last week to cancel the city's July 3 Patriotic Evening because they said the drought has made the fireworks display too dangerous.

Crystal River officials said they still plan to shoot off fireworks during their July 4 festivities.

The county's ban would only affect people in the unincorporated parts of the county, not residents in Inverness or Crystal River.

For several weeks, Citrus County was the second driest county in the state. The Memorial Day shower helped; the county's drought index dropped from 755 on Sunday to 707 on Wednesday but is still in the desert-like range on the 800-point scale.

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