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Fireworks: Rockets’ red glare vanishes from beach at resort

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

By the Fourth of July about two-thirds of the public beach adjacent to Litchfield by the Sea will have joined Pawleys Island and Huntington Beach State Park as fireworks free zones.

Six locations within the oceanfront development along with a home on Norris Drive in Litchfield Beach are the first to file applications with Georgetown County to extend fireworks-prohibited zones on private property to public land. The applications were approved this week by County Council.

State law allows property owners to declare their property a fireworks-prohibited zone by registering the property with the sheriff’s office. Action taken by County Council last year established procedures for county residents to petition council to extend the zone to public areas.

“We appreciate more than you know” the steps council took to make the extension possible, said Henry Jobe, a member of the Litchfield by the Sea Property Owners Association board.

He and the group’s president, Bill McElroy, were the only two people to speak during a public hearing on the applications.

Jobe called the situation “a matter of public safety,” describing a scene where crowds of people including small children are at local beaches to celebrate the holiday. Many of the adults are shooting off boxes of fireworks at night after having spent much of the day drinking and “who knows what condition some of them are in,” he said. “A lot of things could go wrong.”

Each year, he reads newspaper accounts after

Independence Day each about fires and injuries caused around the nation by fireworks.

“This will probably save some injuries at least if not some lives,” McElroy said of the extension.

The Litchfield by the Sea Beach Club, Bridgewater and Sandpiper Run condos, and three single-family homes at Charlestowne Grant were among properties applications were approved for, along with 497 Norris Dr. The extensions for those six Litchfield by the Sea addresses cover between 60 and 70 percent of the beach in front of the development, estimated McElroy.

He and Jobe, who is president of the property owners association at Charlestowne Grant, suspect more applications will follow, they said. They hear complaints every year about fireworks, ranging from litter to safety hazards.

“Personally I’ve been on a deck at a party overlooking the ocean when fireworks started blowing inland,” Jobe said. Falling cinders from pyrotechnics blow onto clothing and skin and burn, he said. If those cinders manage to ignite a shirt or the carpeting on one of the decks, it could lead to disaster, he said.

“We’re not against fireworks,” Jobe added. “People can still watch fireworks on the beach and have fun.” They just can’t set them off on the beach in front of most parts of Litchfield by the Sea anymore.

The law also makes it illegal for anyone to shoot fireworks into a prohibited zone.

Fireworks are still allowed at North Litchfield and Murrells Inlet annually hosts a professional fireworks display beginning at 10 p.m. July 4.

Upon approval of the applications, council has five days to put its decision in writing for each applicant. Those documents were supposed to be available for applicants to pick up and deliver to the sheriff’s office on Wednesday to be filed with the papers already on file for bans on their private property. Once the documents are filed, the extended fireworks free zones become enforceable and signs have to be erected notifying the public that fireworks aren’t allowed.

Signs at the beach in front of Litchfield by the Sea are supposed to go up this week.

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