'One-second thrill'

Mary Flynn of Ashland is spending Fourth of July with her son and granddaughter at Stinson Beach in Marin County, Calif. Because fireworks are illegal to sell in Oregon's neighbor to the south, she stopped at the annual temporary fireworks shop located just north of city limits before leaving town.

"I thought the prices were pretty good &

for a one-second thrill," Flynn said after purchasing $22 worth of fireworks.

Many people seemed to agree with her, as a continual flow of shoppers filled the fireworks tent, called Discount Fireworks Superstore, a full week before the big holiday.

"We have more than 120 different kinds of fireworks," said Cody Forsythe, 16, who comes with several friends from the Christian Praise Center in Cornelius, Ore., to run one of his father's seven Rogue Valley fireworks stands. A portion of the profits goes to the center, he said.

Prices range from the 30-cent Golden Fountain, a sparkler emits gold-colored flashes, to the new-this-season $30 Hearts of Fire, which shoots a variety of colored sparklers about 6 feet into the air. It also contains the state-regulated amount of gunpowder, 500 grams.

"Some feel heavier than others, but none have more than 500 grams in them," Forsythe said.

One of the most popular items is the Screaming Willie. "People like to modify them," said Forsythe, explaining why they are so popular.

This variety can be turned into a bottle rocket, a firework that shoots through the air and is illegal in Oregon. When asked how to modify the Screaming Willie, he said, "We can't tell you that."

Although many find fireworks to be a fun way to celebrate Independence Day, they can also be dangerous, said Margueritte Hickman, fire marshal of Ashland. Since 2001, there have been 65 fires in the city limits caused by fireworks, and in that year a fireworks-caused fire destroyed a house on the 2000 block of Nevada Street.

"We like to think fireworks are under control," Hickman said. "As we saw in 2001, with the destruction of a home, fireworks can be devastating."

Fireworks are illegal to use within city limits most of the year, but are permitted between June 23 and July 6.

Hickman encouraged people to attend the public fireworks display put on by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce that starts at 10 p.m. and can be best viewed from the Southern Oregon University's Raider Stadium. "That way they don't have the safety issue," she said.

If people want to use their own fireworks, Hickman encouraged them to have a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, use them away from dry grass, buildings and other flammable materials, and soak used fireworks to ensure they are extinguished.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or .

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