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Howard Co. authorities warn against sparkler use


As the July Fourth holiday approaches, Howard County police and fire officials warned today of new efforts to crack down on the use of illegal ground-based sparklers.

Authorities said they are contacting county retailers to ensure that such fireworks are not sold. Violators will be subject to a fine of up to $250.

The agencies are also posting fliers in communities to educate citizens about a law passed by the Howard County Council in 2003 prohibiting the sale, possession and use of ground-based sparklers in response to safety risks associated with the devices, police said.

The county bill was introduced after the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 added, for the first time in 60 years, certain ground-based sparkling devices to the list of legal fireworks.

After the change in state law, Howard County fire officials responded to 12 calls related to ground-based sparklers in the weeks leading up to July Fourth in 2002. Most of the calls were for brush fires that endangered homes and other structures, according to authorities.

A young child was also treated for first- and second-degree burns on her face in a July Fourth incident that year with a ground-based sparkler, officials said. Later in 2002, authorities responded to a report of an apparent explosive device in a mailbox that turned out to be a ground-based sparkler.

The county law does not affect the sale or use of other fireworks such as handheld sparklers, party poppers, ignitable "snakes" and "snap n' pops."

Originally published June 21, 2005, 1:02 PM EDT

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