Police: Keep the fireworks legal

YORK -- If you're thinking about shooting bottle rocket fireworks from parking lots along Carowinds Boulevard or firing off some artillery shells at the old Lake Wylie shopping mall or near the boat landing, better think again.

Doing so will get you a fine or jail time on July 4, authorities said.

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant is taking a stronger stance against people who illegally pop firecrackers in countywide open fields, parking lots and behind businesses.

To combat offenders this Fourth of July, Bryant will step up manpower by more than four times the norm.

"Last year, it got out of hand," Bryant said Friday during a press conference at Moss Justice Center. "This year, we are going to enforce some statutes."

Tom Rainer of Red Rocket Fireworks Co. in Fort Mill said he supports the efforts of law officials.

"They're just trying to make sure people are safe," Rainer said. "We want people to enjoy fireworks, but on the same token we want them to be safe about the way they shoot off fireworks and their choice of location."

Bryant previously asked the York County Council to pass stricter fireworks rules aimed at the Carowinds Boulevard area in Fort Mill Township and merchants selling fireworks.

The law would have prohibited shooting fireworks in store parking lots and on personal property as well as restrict the time that fireworks could be shot during the day. But the state sets fireworks law, not local governments.

Bryant and others say illegal firecracker popping is especially bad in the areas near the state line.

"People actually shot fireworks at each other," said York County Fire Marshal Randy Thompson, recalling last year's festivities.

Last year, an estimated 100,000 people attended fireworks displays at Knight's Stadium, Carowinds and at the Lake Wylie firework show.

During the festivities, authorities attempted to respond to two fire calls, five fights and two medical calls, Bryant said.

Officials had problems responding to the calls because of the volume of people in attendance, he said.

But officials will be ready this year. Sixteen officers are usually scheduled to work Wednesday nights at the Sheriff's Office; however, this Wednesday, 82 people are scheduled to work in addition to extra fire officials.

"We want people to have a good time," Bryant said. "We want people to be respectful of our citizens and property."