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Many Marylanders Celebrate New Year With Blast Of Illegal Fireworks

SHREWSBURY, Pa. (WJZ) -- While tens of thousands will be watching fireworks down at the Inner Harbor or on TV, others light illegal out-of-state fireworks in Maryland.

Mike Schuh reports New Year's Eve is one of the biggest sales days of the year in southern Pennsylvania.

The next exit past the Pennsylvania state sign holds a dazzling cornucopia.

"You could go with a New Yorker, which is one of our most popular products we carry," said Bill Hurt, Phantom Fireworks.

And illegal in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

To get in the store, you prove you're not from here and then sign a promise to take what you buy out of the state. Where does most of their business come from? That's right--Maryland.

"Fifty percent? Maybe. That wouldn't be a bad number," Hurt said.

Those people include Tony, a firefighter from Maryland.

"Just got some bottle rockets and Roman candles," he said.

He loves the big stuff, but this is enough to keep his kids happy.

"They keep their distance. I do all the lighting," said Tony.

This will be one of Phantom Fireworks' busiest days of the year.

"Busiest time is going to be Fourth of July, then after that, it's going to be New Year's," Hurt said.

Thirty-three miles away, the Maryland fire marshal's office wishes Pennsylvania had never written laws bringing customers up north.

"We have a constant flow of illegal fireworks coming into the state," said Bruce Bouche, Md. Fire Marshal's Office.

Nothing that launches is legal here, only fountains are OK in some areas.

As far as safety goes, the industry says consumers are starting to buy fireworks more and more where you only have to light it once, but multiple things happen, allowing the operators to be further away when this stuff explodes.

The company promotes its safety videos and says consumer injuries are on the decline.

So on New Year's Eve, if it sounds like the Inner Harbor where you live, thank, or curse the legislators in Pennsylvania for making it so easy for Maryland residents to celebrate with a blast.

Those stores report they will stay open until just before midnight.

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