HELENA – Fireworks are now legal to purchase and set off in Montana for the Fourth of July.
Stands were getting set up early Monday morning in the Helena area and elsewhere in Montana to get ready for patriotic revelers.
The TNT stand on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Joslyn Street in Helena already had multiple customers in their first hour of being open.
The veteran-operated stand anticipates selling well over 10,000 fireworks by the end of the holiday.
James Merrill, a Marine Corps veteran, works the stand with his family and says his favorite part is seeing the faces of the children light up each year.
“It’s an ongoing pleasure to help people celebrate the independence of our country,” said Merrill. “When the kids come here, they light up just like fireworks, and they can’t wait to go out there and see the big sparks fly and enjoy it.”
Merrill recommends parents to make sure the fireworks are age-appropriate for the child and urges everyone to be safe out there.
“You definitely want to be safe about everything. Be careful where you light them. Even though the weather’s been great and everything like that, it’s still something you have to be careful about,” said Merrill.
Bob Drake, chief at Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department, stresses the importance of using common sense and being prepared when using fireworks.
“Think about what can happen and then plan for that,” said Drake. “Think about where it’s going to land. If it’s something that can burn, a lot of them come down hot enough to start a fire. Think about what can happen. Can you live with that? If the answer is no, don’t do it.”
Fire officials say the number one thing they hear from fireworks calls is the person didn’t expect it to tip over or produce as many sparks.
“They light the firework, it falls over and then shoots underneath their vehicle or into their garage. Don’t give fire an opening to go into a house or into a structure,” Drake said.
Drake added he’s not anti-firework, he just wants people to be safe so it doesn’t put someone’s life at risk.
“I just want them to be used safely and not lose a volunteer, resident or house over something happening that’s unexpected,” explained Drake.
People are recommended to wear appropriate clothing and be prepared to put out a small fire. Having the right tools like a shovel or hose to put out small fires can mean all the difference before it grows into a big one.
While it is legal to set off fireworks in Lewis and Clark County, it is illegal to set off fireworks in the city limits of Helena and other cities, including Billings.
Fireworks are also prohibited on federal and state lands, such as in national forests and or at state fishing sites.
Officials also recommend keeping fireworks away for children when not supervised by an adult.
Story by John Riley, MTN News