Jun 27, 2011 6:29 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Shreveport and Bossier City have banned fireworks sales through the end of June because of a drought and a forecast that calls for more hot, dry conditions.
Shreveport Fire Chief Brian Crawford told The Times that it was a difficult decision because of the tradition of shooting fireworks around July 4 and financial hits to fireworks vendors.
City-sponsored fireworks will be allowed to launch from a barge in Red River.
But Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker said Louisiana Downs won't be permitted to host its Fourth of July show. Both cities typically allow a 10- to 12-day fireworks sales period in conjunction with the holiday.
Shreveport Fire Department statistics show a more than 400 percent increase in grass fires and a 98 percent increase in total fires from June 1 through 20 compared to 2010.
The ban extends to rural Bossier Parish. Caddo Parish, outside Shreveport, is not participating. Fireworks will be sold in the parish outside city limits for the remainder of June through July, officials said.
"We looked at several factors, and in our professional opinion, on the parish level, we do not see undue risks to public safety based on current weather conditions," said Dan Cotton, chief of Fire District No. 1.
In Webster Parish, a formal decision was made Friday not to interfere with the sale and use of fireworks, but citizens are asked to be "extremely cautious and responsible in their celebrations," spokeswoman Jenny Reynolds said.
Elsewhere in northwestern Louisiana, some fireworks shows are still on, while others have been canceled.
For example, Hodges Gardens State Park in Florien has called off its popular fireworks show, with promises to reschedule it at a later date. But a daylong Independence Day celebration ending with fireworks over Cane River Lake is still a go in downtown Natchitoches.