COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney is dispelling any speculation on whether recent suspension of fireworks by county and city government officials is legal.
“This office has been made aware that the Whitley County Commissioners have imposed a ban on burning and on fireworks pursuant to their authority,” said Prosecutor Matt Rentschler in a letter Thursday.
The county’s Board of Commissioners issued a ban on open burning, to include fireworks, on Monday.
As part of the announcement, board chair Don Amber said there had been concern that the ban’s inclusion of fireworks was illegal since fireworks are legal by state law. He said at the time the commissioners were banning fireworks anyway.
Rentschler cited Indiana code, saying that while banning fireworks could be an illegal act by the board, it is not in this case since the ban is being done in conjunction with a fire hazard emergency.
“This emergency provision overrides the ordinary state of the law, which recognizes the legality of use of fireworks,” Rentschler said.
He said Indiana code “prevents local governmental units from prohibiting fireworks...” He reiterated that law doesn’t apply in this case.
“Emergency ordinances are not affected by (the code).
Columbia City had led the way in banning open burning, passing an ordinance June 15. The commissioners followed suit, and included fireworks in their ban. On Tuesday, Columbia City postponed the city’s annual fireworks event, scheduled for Tuesday.