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Fireworks ban possible in Wichita, officials say

Wichita could enact a fireworks ban at some point this week if conditions continue to deteriorate, officials said Thursday.

Dry vegetation, strong winds, temperatures well above 100 and no precipitation in the forecast have elevated the fire threat in the area, Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said.

"That is something we continue to give consideration on a daily basis," Crisp said. "We're paying attention.

"Our intentions are to keep everyone safe and at the same time enjoy the holiday."

Several cities around the state already have banned fireworks this year because of the danger of fires, Crisp said.

Crisp also talked Thursday about illegal fireworks being sold at some stands in Wichita.

Sky Lanterns, which are illegal inside Wichita's city limits, are designed to be lit while being held by hand and then released to float into the sky.

"Once it's full of hot air, you let go ... and then it goes wherever it decides to go," Crisp said.

With south winds this week blowing steadily at 15 to 25 miles an hour and gusting above 30, it could go a long way.

It could float into power lines, into trees, onto your neighbor's house — or even your house, Crisp said.

"You don't know where it's going to go," he said. "They're designed to self-extinguish. But as we all know, fireworks don't always work as they're designed."

Any fireworks that shoot sparks or rise more than 6 feet into the air are banned in the city limits, Crisp said. The Sky Lanterns were removed from a couple of fireworks tents Monday, the first day fireworks could be sold in the city.

Crisp said the product was delivered to the tents by mistake, and no citations were issued.

"If you have them, get rid of them," Crisp said of the Sky Lanterns. "If you have them, don't use them."

One fire caused by fireworks has been reported in the county so far this week, Crisp said, but none in the city.

Crisp also clarified where residents can set off fireworks in the city. Parks are off limits by ordinance.

"There are no rules about shooting fireworks in the street or on the sidewalk," he said. "With that being said, I would say that is not a great idea."

That creates safety hazards for those going out into the street to set them off, he said, and could damage passing vehicles.

Residents should set the fireworks off on their paved driveway, he said, and then clean up the mess. That includes hosing down or soaking spent fireworks in a water bucket.

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