Otero County Sheriff: Fireworks trash could lead to ordinances to protect property

"We just ask that they're respectful of the folks in Chaparral and the properties they're on."

Chaparral Fireworks

CHAPARRAL, N.M. - The Fourth of July is just four days away and this is the fourth straight year El Paso County has banned fireworks. But as there are still places you can go to light them up, as long as you throw them away too.

"You know fireworks that's part of our history," said Otero County Sheriff Ben House. "And it's important that we celebrate our freedoms and this is one way we can go out and celebrate as Americans."

Out in Chaparral, fireworks stands stay open morning, noon and night, trying to sell as many sparklers, fountains and blaster as they can.

"In the last two years that it's been banned in El Paso, we've been getting quite a bit more business out here in New Mexico," said TNT stand cashier Matt Elliot.

"It's a shame that they have to come to Otero County to do that, but we welcome them," House said. "We just ask that they're respectful of the folks in Chaparral and the properties they're on."

People will come out to Chaparral and pop one off, marvel at the pretty fire, then head back to El Paso, leaving behind very "tangible memories".

"It's funny because we actually have all kinds of trash, like food, like, diapers, there was diapers last year," Elliot said.

"The trash it's gotten really bad," House said.

House said he sees thousands come out, and fill bare patches in the county with bags of garbage. New Mexico Highway crews, volunteers, and sometimes inmates clean up what others won't.

"We'll pull our resources to get down there, but it's ultimately our tax dollars that pay for the cleanup," House said.

Chaparral residents said they're glad El Pasoans can enjoy the freedom their part of town offers.

"You do see a lot of people leave trash around," said one woman buying fireworks.

But they really hate getting stuck with the mess. House offers a compromise between El Paso and Chaparral.

"If they would bring their own bags and police the area," House said, or else.

one that even the firework stands will support --

"They don't want to clean their mess up and that's a shame," House said. "Because it could force Otero County to pass some ordinances to protect our property."

If you're planning on lighting fireworks in New Mexico, remember, there are no fireworks in areas covered by brush. Fireworks are allowed in areas that are paved, or have access to water. Fireworks allowed include sparklers, cone fountains and toy smoke devices and wheels among others.

If you plan on buying any in Anthony and Mesilla, you can only light them there. Las Cruces prohibits any fireworks purchased outside city limits, and fireworks are banned in El Paso until 8:00 am on July 5th. 

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