County residents: Don't shoot fireworks during ban
Saline County's burn ban means that the individual use of fireworks is prohibited anywhere in the county, according to a spokesperson for County Judge Lanny Fite.
In Benton, vendors may not sell fireworks during this period, but their sale is still allowed in the county for now, Fite said.
"The county ban doesn't prohibit the sale of fireworks, but it does prohibit the discharge unless a permit has been issued by the Office of Emergency Management," the county spokesperson said.
Saline County is among 52 in the state that have outlawed fireworks during the hot, dry weather.
Fite issued the county ban on Friday and Benton Fire Chief Bill Ford followed with additional restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks in the city until the countywide burn ban has been lifted.
Fite's ban, which includes Benton and all of Saline County, will be enforced until the judge announces a change.
In his announcement prohibiting the sale and use of fireworks in Benton, Ford noted that the city's Ordinance 33 of 2011 states: "Fireworks Usage/Ban — When, in the opinion of the Fire Chief, drought or other conditions exist which when coupled with the discharge of fireworks, would pose a hazard to persons or property, the Fire Chief shall issue a ban on the sale and discharge of all fireworks until such time as the condition causing the ban ceases."
Ford noted that "if and when the ban is lifted, the use of fireworks in the city of Benton will be limited to those times and dates listed in Ordinance 33 of 2011."
He pointed out that the edict will not affect the Fourth of July public fireworks display scheduled for the Benton Freedom Fest.
Additional information about fireworks restrictions is available by contacting Benton Fire Marshal Bruce Armstrong at 776-5962.
In a Benton City Council meeting Monday night, the aldermen agreed to refund Benton fireworks vendors' $500 permit fee if they are not allowed to sell fireworks by July 5.
Ordinance 33 of 2011 had overturned a 2004 ordinance that prohibited the sale and use of fireworks in the city at all times except for the city's public display and other exhibits approved by the City Council.
During normal circumstances — meaning when no ban is in place — the newer ordinance permitted the sale of fireworks from June 25 to July 5.
Individual usage was allowed between July 3 and July 5, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The ordinance also outlined specific regulations regarding the use of fireworks by individuals under the age of 18.