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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana Legalizes Bottle Rockets And Roman Candles After Decades-Long Ban

Fireworks
Flickr user Michael Cramer (CC-BY-NC-2.0)
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For the first time in decades, fireworks like bottle rockets and Roman candles are legal to use in Montana.

On a 90-degree Wednesday at a Black Cat fireworks stand in Helena, manager Barbara Hrella shows me the new sky rockets in stock ahead of the Fourth of July. 

“It’s just unique because they are so compact. And so the sodium nitrate that’s in there with the gunpowder is just so concentrated this little guy just goes up and does its own thing by itself independently,” Hrella says.

Hrella says the newly legal bottle rockets and Roman candles have been popular among customers.

“It’s really exciting because people are getting things from their youth.” 

The 2021 Legislature rescinded the state’s ban on bottle rockets and Roman candles with the fireworks industry in support, saying it’ll put Montana in line with federal regulations that allow for the sale of these types of pyrotechnics. 

Fire Chief Rich Cowger, president of the Montana Fire Alliance, opposed the legislation during the session because of the risks.

“They’re propelled projectiles that once released by the users, they have no control over them,” Cowger said. 

He says these types of fireworks can be dangerous and spark wildfires.

Local governments can still limit the use of certain or all fireworks. Amid a drought and record-breaking heat in Montana, the cities of Missoula, West Yellowstone and the Big Sky fire district, among others, have prohibited all fireworks for the Fourth of July this year.

Hrella from the fireworks stand says she tells customers to be cautious with bottle rockets and Roman candles.

“I feel like people shouldn’t be abusing it,” Hrella says.

Fire officials urge people to only set off fireworks in clear areas away from flammable materials. They also advise keeping a bucket of water or hose nearby.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.
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