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Fireworks Cause Complaints, Plans For Action In Bellefonte

Matt Rourke
Associated Press

A 2017 Pennsylvania law that lets residents buy consumer-grade fireworks has some local communities worried about their safety, including Bellefonte in Centre County, which plans to step up enforcement.

The state passed the law, which lets Pennsylvanians buy fireworks. It also brings in money for the state, with a total 18% tax on firework sales.

Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson said fireworks complaints are at a high this summer.

“It really sounded like we were under attack from a foreign country or something. Like back with cannons, sailing boats with cannons and pirates and stuff — they're going off all over town," he said.

There were reported incidents from fireworks across the state over the holiday weekend. In Wilkes-Barre, a fire destroyed a family home. An 8-year-old boy died from injuries in West York.

There were no serious reported injuries in Bellefonte — but Wilson believes changes to the law should be made to protect community members and buildings. He said very few Bellefonte homes are 150 feet apart, the legal distance required to set off fireworks.

“Some boroughs and townships have enacted their own ordinance to try to squelch some of the discharging of fireworks," Wilson said.

He said the town will give out fines for people who don’t follow the laws in the future.

Some communities and legislators want the law to be repealed or amended. State Senator Gene Yaw, the legislation's sponsor, said it's up to municipalities to enforce the law. He said he would be open to increasing the penalties for violations.

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