Holiday brings out fireworks fun, danger in the Myrtle Beach area

The Fourth of July holiday is a time to celebrate the nation's history and spend time with friends and family, but area authorities also want to remind residents and visitors to be safe while in the area and use common sense during their travels.

"July 4th is typically a busy weekend for us, obviously," Myrtle Beach police Capt. David Knipes said. "We're getting into the part of year where we see more families in town so it will be busy." An increase in the area's population also means criminals look for opportunities and reports about vehicle break-ins at the beach accesses and thefts of beach bags increase, Knipes said. He suggests limiting the number of valuables you take on trips.

"Protect your belongings and be aware of your surroundings," Knipes said. "Don't leave visible in your vehicle, if you leave it out in plain view there's a chance could get broken into."

With the lack of rain and droughtlike conditions in the Myrtle Beach area, fire officials warn residents and visitors to use extra caution if they are shooting fireworks, which are restricted to certain areas. Residents should check with their homeowner's association or if they live in a municipality to see if fireworks are allowed in their community. Rainfall is not in the holiday weekend forecast, so hot, dry conditions will persist, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.

The rekindle of a brush fire outside of Conway earlier this week was attributed to fireworks launched from a 4-wheeler, according to the S.C. Forestry Commission.

"We have had a few brush fires dealing with fireworks around the 4th of July," said Kenny Todd, an Horry County Fire Rescue battalion chief and a resident state fire marshal. One of those fires included a building being destroyed in the Lake Arrowhead area along Shore Drive after fireworks landed in some pampas grass next to the building and caught fire, he said. No serious injuries or property damage have recently occurred in the area.

Nationally, fireworks have caused millions of dollars in property loss and thousands of injuries and deaths, according to the state fire marshal's office. Last year in South Carolina, there were 208 fireworks-related fire incidents and 57 percent of those occurred around the July 4th weekend.

"If their fireworks do start a fire, they are responsible for any damages that fire causes. Unless they have a large open area and it is difficult to control where the debris comes down and it could damage a neighbor's vehicle or property," Todd said. "Any type of outdoor burning should be postponed until we get some rain in most areas. The grass and vegetation is extremely dry and the breezy conditions we have can cause a fire to spread quicker and intensify quicker. Go to a public display where they are required to follow safety precautions."

But if residents or visitors are planning to shoot their own fireworks, Todd said they should use caution and not allow children near them because of the intense heat generated by even those childhood favorite sparklers.

Scott Vandament, a Murrells Inlet resident, purchased a bundle of fireworks Thursday for a display at his home this weekend. He plans on surprising some relatives at a family gathering with the display, which he described as nothing too big.

"It's going to be a family event," Vandament said.

He said he plans to follow all safety precautions including shooting them in an open area and maintaining a safety area so no one is hurt because a few children will be in attendance.

"They won't have access to them. We'll keep the children away," Vandament said.

Clint Lawrence of Myrtle Beach also plans on being safe when he and his family shoot fireworks at their home this weekend, he said. On Thursday, Lawrence and his daughter purchased some fireworks for a small display with family.

"It's something we do every year ... spending time with family," Lawrence said and described the fireworks as sparklers and fountains.

Other tips from Todd include following package directions on fireworks, keeping water and a fire extinguisher nearby, do not point the fireworks at people or buildings, and staying in an open area.

"We're here to provide a service. We'd rather you call us and not really need us than need us and not call us," Todd said. "Have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday."


Improper use of the fireworks may be dangerous, both to the person operating them and to bystanders; in addition, they may start fires after landing on flammable material. For this reason, the use of fireworks is generally legally restricted. Display fireworks are restricted by law for use by professionals; consumer items, available to the public, are smaller versions containing limited amounts of explosive material to reduce potential danger. Fireworks may pose a problem for animals, both domestic and wild, who can be terrified by the noise, leading to them running away or hurting themselves on fences or in other ways in an attempt to escape.

Posted by imran Thursday, June 30, 2011


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