As July 4 approaches, the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department urges Ocracoke citizens and visitors to remember that all fireworks are prohibited on the island.
Typically, the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association produces a number of July Fourth events on the island but due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, all of these events, including the professional fireworks display, were canceled.
Nevertheless, that does not mean folks can have their own fireworks displays since any kind of fireworks—from sparklers to bottle rockets—have been banned since 2003 on Ocracoke after some fireworks brought by visitors accidentally caught the marsh on fire near Jackson Dunes.
Dick Jacoby, president of the Ocracoke Fire Protection Association, which is the nonprofit auxiliary of the fire department, said that had the volunteers not contained it, the entire village could have caught fire.
Fireworks pose a danger because of the ever-constant island wind that in the summer blows predominantly southwest, or from the ocean inward. Wind blew embers from those personal fireworks in 2003 into the marsh grasses.
In 2007, fireworks debris from a professional display held on the beach blew onto the grass near the airport also causing a fire.
Information from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says that even small, legal fireworks such as sparklers, fountains, glow worms, smoke devices, trick noisemakers and other Class C fireworks can be hazardous.
For example, sparklers burn at temperatures above 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Glow worms burn directly on the ground near ignition sources.
Wildfires caused by fireworks can be prosecuted under the forest protection laws of North Carolina, and individuals may be subject to reimbursing the costs for fire suppression.