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When Pine resident Pam Mason opened her June 26 Roundup and saw the Safeway ad she instantly felt alarm.

“The Safeway flier insert entitled ‘Summer Deals’ on June 26 offered the TNT firework bundle for $19.99, $29.99 and $49.99,” she said. “Please can someone in authority make sure that Safeway stores within Gila County are not displaying or selling fireworks to the general public, as per strict fire restrictions currently in place?”

The Roundup contacted Safeway and Nancy Keane, the company’s communications director, said, “We do not sell fireworks in Payson or the White Mountains.”

Using fireworks on federal or state land is illegal at all times, but state law allows for the sale of certain fireworks.

The Arizona Legislature outlawed fireworks that detonate in the sky. Cylindrical and cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheeled and ground spinners, sparklers and ground sparkling fireworks can be sold.

In the summer, fireworks may be purchased from May 20 until July 6. In the winter, they may be purchased from Dec. 10 to Jan. 3.

The state only allows people to light them in the summer from June 24 to July 6 — in the winter, from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.

Use of fireworks on preservation lands within a state or city comes with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.

Fireworks may be used on private property with the permission of the owner.

The Payson Town Council recently discussed limiting fireworks on private property.

“Right now ... we really don’t have anything for private property owners,” said LaRon Garrett, town manager during the June 27 council meeting.

To fix this, the town has introduced an ordinance to beef up the local law so police can enforce fire restrictions.

Chief Don Engler said his officers already use state laws to control the use of fire and fireworks, but the police need more to hold property owners accountable.

The proposed ordinance would allow police to write a citation.

If the resident would like to challenge the ticket, they would have to go to court — just as they would to fight a traffic ticket.

Councilor Steve Smith worried the ordinance would prove a slippery slope and may violate private property laws.

“I’m concerned about ... personal property rights,” he said. “How much power do we want the government to have to infringe on someone’s personal property?” he said.

Councilor Jim Ferris said, “I think most of us are tired of our forests burning up.”

The council will vote on the fireworks restriction ordinance at a future meeting.

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I cover the Town of Payson, courts, wildfire, business, families, non-profits, the environment and investigative reporting

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