KALISPELL – The 4th of July holiday is just a week away and fireworks are readily available in the Flathead Valley.
Local law enforcement will be ramping up their presence to make sure everyone is being safe and as an added safety precaution, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says the extra staffing in the Valley will begin this weekend.
"Fireworks are a traditional way in this country and certainly this state and county to celebrate the 4th of July but they’re not without their own intrinsic danger," said Sheriff Curry.
"We ask people to please be safe, even though it’s been a wet summer so far and a wet spring there is still a significant fire danger and we’re out there responding. We do beef up patrols and staffing over the 4th of July," Sheriff Curry added. "It’s a very busy holiday for us and primarily just to make sure that people are being safe."
The regulations regarding fireworks vary across the Flathead Valley with each city setting it own rules.
The sale and use of fireworks is banned completely within Kalispell city limits. Meanwhile, fireworks may only be set off within Whitefish city limits on July 3rd and July 4th from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. — and can only be sold between noon and 8 p.m. between July 2nd and 4th .
State parks, fishing accesses and wildlife areas are off limits to fireworks year-round while Flathead County parks also ban fireworks.
Sheriff Curry says people who violate firework regulations could face a hefty fine or even jail time.
"There are illegal fireworks. You can’t shoot or possess bottle rockets, Roman candles," Sheriff Curry told MTN News. "There are [also] other fireworks that are not legal in the state of Montana.
"You are allowed to shoot off legal fireworks on private property within Flathead County as long as it’s not a county park or on national forest land or inside the incorporated limits within any of the three cities, so while they’re legal their are still some restrictions," Sheriff Curry added.
There are public fireworks displays after dusk on Whitefish and Flathead Lakes which are an alternative option that Sheriff Curry encourages.
"It’s a great way to see them and avoid the associated danger and potential hazard to yourself, your friends and your family. If somebody does see something that they feel is dangerous or illegal occurring, of course, they’re encouraged to contact their local sheriff’s office or police department wherever they are," Sheriff Curry concluded.