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Personal fireworks illegal, pose injury risk, warn state, local officials

State and local officials Wednesday discouraged the illegal possession and use of fireworks this July Fourth holiday weekend.

"People should avoid personal use of fireworks and attend public displays that are much safer to enjoy," Jim Burns, president of the Fire Association of the State of New York, said Wednesday.

Almost half of all fireworks-related injuries happen in the 30 days surrounding July Fourth, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Burns advised against shooting off fireworks, approaching a professional firing site and relighting used fireworks.

"The best view of a professional display is from a quarter of a mile or more away," the association said in a news release.

The possession, use or sale of fireworks is illegal in New York and punishable as a misdemeanor or felony, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"Every year we have people crossing into Pennsylvania, buying fireworks and selling them here," Burns said in an interview, recalling a 5-year-old who had to have her foot amputated because a sparkler melted her shoe.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011 vetoed a bill that would legalize small fireworks like sparklers.

"Sparklers are mentally assigned as toys for kids," Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said in a statement. "But even fireworks as small as sparklers and bottle rockets can do a lot of damage to persons and property."

Nearly an eighth of all reported U.S. injuries involve sparklers and bottle rockets, which burn hotter than 1,200 degrees, Hempstead officials said in the release.

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