LAWTON, Okla._The Fourth of July is one week from Saturday, and many area residents have fireworks on their mind.
This is the first year that it is illegal to sell fireworks in the city of Lawton. It's also illegal to set them off and even have them out of the packaging in the city limits and at city lakes. As a result, surrounding towns are expecting a surge of people from Lawton who still want to buy them and set them off legally.
In the summer, especially around this time, it's common to see firework stands pop up around the city. For those in Lawton, this is just a memory.
This is the first season in 38 years that David McCracken won't be selling fireworks in Lawton city limits. Despite the new ordinance, he still plans on having a successful year in Cache.
"Now that we are out here outside of Lawton, we expect and anticipate a lot of sales from the city of Lawton and the surrounding areas to come into Cache. So, we are just looking for a big sales year," said McCracken.
Cache is one of the few cities that allows fireworks in its city limits. McCracken has operated the stand in Cache for 20 years and says he wasn't going to let Lawton's city ordinance slow him down, but it would impact groups using it as a fundraiser.
Cache Fire Chief Dale Winham knows he will also have to adjust to Lawton's new laws. He is preparing the crew to be on standby from 6:00 p.m. until midnight on July 4 and 5. Winham says he and his crew have previously had to report to more than 16 fires throughout the county on that weekend. He says he fears too many people leaving Lawton to shoot fireworks will cause congestion and delay their response time.
"We really don't want a lot of citizens from outside areas coming into the city of Cache. We just can't accommodate that much influx of people shooting fireworks," explained Chief Winham.
Fireworks obviously also bring a lot of risk with them. Winham just asks that people shooting off fireworks are smart about it.
"When people set a grass fire off in the country, they think they are in trouble. They leave, they let it burn, they don't report it and it's going to burn toward somebody's home. By the time we get out there, it's really going pretty bad and we have a possibility of losing somebody's home," said Winham.
As Chief Winham says, if you are going to celebrate with fireworks, you'll want to have a phone around as well. Calling 911 is the best way to make sure an emergency situation doesn't get out of hand.