Fire exploded in the sky for hours Saturday night into Sunday morning, but Hall County residents stayed safe beneath the celebratory fireworks.
Saturday marked the first Fourth of July holiday on which big fireworks were legal in Georgia, following the implementation of House Bill 110. In Gainesville and Hall County, the new law didn’t result in any reported firework-related incidents or injuries.
“I looked through our calls for last night and did not see any that were fireworks-related,” said Keith Smith, division chief for the Gainesville Fire Department.
Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said the holiday kept the county fire department busy with medical calls “all day long,” but it too had no firework-related incidents.
Smith said he believes people were generally responsible Saturday night.
“Thankfully, those that try ‘stunts’ with fireworks seem to have made it through without any serious incidents,” he said.
Since last Wednesday, fireworks were sold from both established stores and temporary locations, which complied with code requirements and had permits from the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.
Prior to the implementation of House Bill 110, only sparklers and other small firework devices that did not fly high into the air were allowed.
Last week, Smith said in a news release that fireworks cannot be lit in Gainesville within 100 yards of a gas station or “a facility that refines, processes or blends gasoline.” On holidays including New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, July 3 and July 4, fireworks can be used from 10 a.m. through 2 a.m. Regularly, they can only be used from 10 a.m. through midnight.
Cagle asked the public to use common sense and act responsibly before the holiday. He encouraged users to wear safety glasses and keep water or a fire extinguisher on hand.
An estimated 1,400 people celebrated the holiday at Laurel Park on Lake Lanier, one of many festivities in Hall County. After a morning of rain, thunder and lightning, skies cleared in time for the 15-minute firework show.
Cagle said he inspected “the firework sites of all the professional shows, and of course all of them were within legal limits.” He added he suspects the morning’s bad weather may have contributed to the success and safety of the evening shows.
“To my knowledge we didn’t have any calls regarding injuries and personal/consumer fireworks,” Cagle said. “But I certainly believe all the rain helped prevent any woods fires.”