By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
As Independence Day approaches, and families stock up for their home fireworks presentations, Portales and Roosevelt County officials want to keep people safe while they celebrate the holiday.
Portales Fire Chief Raul Muñiz said last year’s celebration went off without a hitch, and he hopes the people of Portales make this Fourth of July another safe holiday.
“We didn’t have any problems (last year),” Muñiz said. “The fireworks celebrations were conducted with a lot of planning and a lot of safety in mind.”
Muñiz said the wetter-than-normal spring and early summer has eased the fire danger, but he still wants people to remain cautious.
“It certainly is better than it was last year,” Muñiz said. “Last year we had a very dry season and we had numerous amounts of grass fires at this point, but regardless of the weather, you still have to follow basic fireworks safety because fires can occur at any time.”
While buying fireworks for his family Monday evening, Portales resident Andy Johnson also noted the wetter spring.
“It’s not near as dry as it was last year,” Johnson said. “It’s been a lot wetter this summer than it has been in a long time.”
According to Muñiz, as in previous years, aerial devices that exceed a height of six feet, such as bottle rockets and Roman candles, are prohibited.
“(The main problem is) the possibility of these devices landing on structures and these structures catching fire,” Muñiz said. “(It’s important to have an adult handy) for many reasons,” Muñiz said. “Number one, you have a mature person that is supervising the use of fireworks. You also have a person that in case of emergency can drive to seek medical attention and be able to take care of that particular situation when it occurs.”
Portales Police captain Lonnie Berry says he hopes people celebrate their holiday at the city fireworks show at Greyhound Arena, but offers tips for those who wish to display their own fireworks.
“If they decide that they really want to do their own, the most important thing is to make sure that you put them off in a safe place where it won’t start a grass fire,” Berry said. “Also make sure you put them off away from residences and places so that small children aren’t going to be injured.”
The Johnsons say they intend to say safe but like having their own fireworks.
“We usually go out and watch the one that the city puts on,” Johnson said. “The kids like the big one, but they like seeing dad get out and light all the other ones. They enjoy that.”
Fireworks safety tips
provided by Portales Fire Dept.
• Read and follow label directions
• Have an adult present when handling fireworks
• Always have water available
• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
• Never ignite fireworks indoors
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
Call the Portales Fire Department with any fireworks questions at 356-4406