Despite ban, beach fireworks incidents reported 

By on August 6, 2019

In many parts of Dare County, all forms of fireworks are banned, and in the remaining communities, any fireworks that propel off the ground are illegal. But several recent incidents indicate they are being ignited on the beach, with potentially harmful results.

Abby Madson of Virginia was walking on the beach in Southern Shores with her sister on the evening of Aug. 3, when she heard a loud noise. “We turned around and were shocked to see (a large family group) launching fireworks,” she wrote in an email to the Voice.

Madson said some fireworks were launched into the dunes and toward a sea turtle hatching area, resulting in some dune grass catching fire.  “We were a bit shocked and weren’t sure what to do,” she added. “As the mother took the kids away, in our direction, the rest of the group eventually put the fire out with sand.”

About 50 miles to the south in Rodanthe, Trisha Brock was staying at the Cape Hatteras KOA when someone began setting off fireworks on the beach around 11:30 p.m., according to a post she shared on the Rodanthe Pier Fan Page.  “Our puppy, Harper got scared and ran off,” she wrote, asking for help finding the dog. The post generated an outpouring of support and Harper was found the next day.

In both Southern Shores and Hatteras Island, all fireworks are banned, according to the Dare County Fire Marshal’s Office. That means that even sparklers, sparkling foundations, snakes and glow worms are prohibited. Fireworks are also prohibited on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, said Michael Barber, public information officer for the National Park Service Outer Banks Group.

The towns of Duck and Nags Head have also banned all types of fireworks. In Duck and in Dare County’s unincorporated jurisdiction of Hatteras Island, the misdemeanor charge for using them carries a $250 fine. It is also illegal to detonate or possess fireworks in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Barber notes.

The remaining areas of unincorporated Dare County and the towns of Manteo, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk adhere to North Carolina law, which prohibits any fireworks that propel an object or that explode. These would include firecrackers, sky rocket and Roman candles.

“Over the last few years, homeowners adjacent to seashore beaches have voiced concerns about the use of fireworks by beach visitors, especially around the July Fourth holiday,” Barber acknowledged, adding that law enforcement staff do respond to reports of fireworks. He encouraged visitors to CHNS to call 252-473-3444 to report an incident.

Duck Police Chief John Cueto said his department did respond to a call Aug. 4 on Plover Drive involving noise and fireworks, however no fireworks were confiscated.  

Citing a past incident in which fireworks caught the cedar shingles of a house on fire, Chief Cueto asserted that the Town of Duck doesn’t tolerate the use of fireworks. “Fire departments see all sorts of situations like that,” he noted. “We stand by the fact that they are illegal. From sparklers to launchables, all fireworks are illegal in Duck.”

The chief said signage and messaging has helped to decrease the amount of calls the department has gotten in recent years, noting that between June 1 and Aug. 4, there were a total of seven calls for fireworks. “Last year we confiscated materials and issued citations…But the number is definitely down.”

And despite the incident on the beach in Southern Shores, Lieutenant Jon Slegel said his department hasn’t received many calls this year relating to fireworks. “We get some, but not that many,” he said.

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  • Local Mermaid

    In south Nags Head huge rocking the house fireworks occur every week.
    If you call the phone number mentioned above they get angry with you for bothering them. It is time for the police to step up and cite these people.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 7:52 am
  • Cat

    After a close call years ago on the Mall in DC where a bottle rocket hit me, I believe that fireworks should be left to the professionals. They are dangerous, leaving trash and pollution, causing fires and ER visits each year.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 8:21 am
  • Czarina

    For starters, all communities on the Outer Banks need to quit giving permits to fireworks sellers. It’s hypocritical to say you can’t set them off, but we’ll let you buy them here.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 9:15 am
  • Steve

    It’s the tourists that are the problem, not the fireworks. Why would someone be ‘shocked’ due to fireworks? The type of visitors we have these days take offence or complain about anything. I sure miss the fishermen and the more pleasant demographic we had before the northern invasion of yuppies.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 11:22 am
  • gsurf123

    The use of fireworks decreased greatly when the ban was put in place, however there has been a noticeable uptick this year. I am happy the 4th of July is not held every week during the summer. There really is no enforcement as doing so is nearly impossible and impractical.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 11:23 am
  • Bob Kissell

    It’s all about the money. If they put a hard stop to the use of fireworks, tourists (tourons) will go somewhere else and take their $$$ with them.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 11:35 am
  • Steve

    That would be the best thing to happen for the benefit of us all. Overpoulation during the summer months causes major issues and is dangerous for everyone. Proven over and over with lives lost.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 6:37 pm
  • gsurf123

    While most everything related to tourists is all about the money I don’t think fireworks are included in the list of items that will get a tourist to never come back. As an example of how lopsided it is the rental agencies could care less about owner of the rental home. There is no enforcement of occupancy rules and little if anything is done if property is damaged. In most cases you will be the one to discover the damage at the end of the season at which point you won’t know who did it.

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 10:12 pm
  • RicknKDH

    We need to ban all “assault” fireworks because it’s not the people that are the problem, it’s the fireworks… right?

    Wednesday, Aug 7 @ 4:56 pm
  • Beach dogs

    Visitors come down here appear to leave their common sense at home. There have been numerous events around the Ramada, comfort Inn and south towards the John Yancey this summer. Needless to say it upsets my household with 2 dogs. I confronted one group of young people and they told me they bought them at Walmart in Kitty Hawk.

    Thursday, Aug 8 @ 7:54 pm