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Brittany Lawonn, Published July 01 2009

Police to watch out for illegal fireworks

With the Fourth of July a few days away, the crackling pop of fireworks has already started.

But setting off a patriotic display could lead to fines in certain areas of the region.

Most fireworks are illegal in Minnesota, with the exception of a few ground fireworks, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.

Minnesota residents can’t possess any fireworks that shoot into the air, such as bottle rockets, he said.

“It can’t explode, it has to pop,” added Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson.

Moorhead residents caught using or possessing such fireworks could be fined around $140, Jacobson said.

Because the statute is a state law, violating it could lead one to be charged with a misdemeanor with a mandatory court appearance and the possibility of up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, Bergquist said.

“I can’t say that anybody’s gone to jail over it,” he said, adding that the punishment likely would depend on the extent of a person’s usage.

North Dakota law regulates when fireworks can be sold but does not specifically ban them, said Cass County Sheriff’s Capt. Rick Majerus.

Fireworks can be used all year in Cass County, he said. Restrictions do apply to those living inside city limits, depending on each city’s ordinances.

Casselton residents can use fireworks between July 3 and July 5 if they obtain a permit before Friday. Without the $10 permit, those using fireworks face a $1,000 fine, said City Auditor Brandy Pyle.

Fireworks are not permitted within the city limits of Fargo and West Fargo, and using them could result in a $100 fine.

That hasn’t stopped residents from shooting them off, said Assistant West Fargo Police Chief Mike Reitan. The department has received quite a few complaints already, he said.

The standard response from police would be to explain the law to people and give them a verbal warning, said Fargo Sgt. Mark Lykken.

“More than likely we wouldn’t confiscate them, but we would tell them they need to be destroyed,” he said.

If the fireworks are confiscated, they must be placed into evidence and would not be returned to the owner, Lykken said.

“We have a lot of complaints, but we don’t issue many tickets,” he said.

Lykken said he believed one ticket was issued last year to a person who gave police severe resistance.

The ticket also requires the individual to appear in court, Lykken said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541