Fireworks Are Still Legal in Missoula County, Despite Rumors
It's further proof that social media isn't just notorious for spreading political conspiracy theories. It's also pretty useful for confusing people about celebrating our political independence.
This week, as the 4th of July approached and dads and kids were "arming up" for the annual, and noisest celebration of the year, rumors started to circulate that fireworks had been "banned" in Missoula County and would be illegal in 2023.
But as is usually the case online, people were getting confused over where fireworks ARE illegal, and where they are allowed.
There are specific areas to consider
First, remain legal on private property in the county, outside the Missoula city limits.
Second, fireworks are illegal on federal, state, and private land classified as forest lands. So that includes places like Lolo National Forest, state forest lands in places like the Seeley-Swan, and the BLM timberlands up the Blackfoot River. That includes all National Forest campgrounds and Montana State Parks.
Thirdly, fireworks are illegal at Missoula County Parks and Recreation areas.
Finally, "most" fireworks are illegal again this year inside the Missoula City Limits. The exceptions are "novelty" fireworks, like party poppers, snappers, toy smoke devices, snakes, glow worms, and sparklers.
The big concern is safety
In the City of Missoula, there have been many problems over the years with not only fireworks injuries but major fires, such as when Mount Sentinel was set ablaze on the 4th several years ago. That's in addition to noise complaints.
For the Missoula County Fire Protection Association, the big fear is wildfire starts. If you do live in the county and want to set off fireworks on your own property, they recommend precautions like keeping a bucket and hose handy in case a small fire starts, making sure children are supervised, not pointing fireworks at other people, and not trying to relight malfunctioning fireworks. Even then, you should remember there are still fireworks that may be illegal. That's somewhat confusing since state law changed in 2021 to allow aerial fireworks like bottle rockets and Roman candles.
OPTIONS TO FIREWORKS: Public Displays and Shows in Western Montana
Missoula rules will be strictly enforced
The City of Missoula was reminding residents again this week that most fireworks (except for the "novelty" variety mentioned above are illegal, and that includes use in Fort Missoula Regional Park, where traditional use on South Avenue was pretty sketchy and dangerous before the park's development.
For the city and the county, people can report illegal fireworks activity from now through Wednesday, July 5th, by calling 406-258-4850. Missoula Police and firefighters will respond to as many complaints "as possible" inside the city and may issue citations. In the county, fines are possible, but the larger expense could come from fighting a wildfire started by fireworks.
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