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MERRILL (WAOW) -
Fireworks stands are busy this week with people stocking up for fourth of July celebrations, but police officers say they'll be watching for people using illegal fireworks.
The Merrill Police Chief told us the same thing happens every year.
"We get a lot of calls about the noise and about illegal fireworks being shot off in various places in the city," said Chief Ken Neff.
He added that it's not hard to tell which fireworks are legal and which ones aren't.
"If it explodes or shoots off the ground, it's illegal to have," said Chief Neff.
Law enforcement officials said you need a permit to light off those kinds of fireworks in many Wisconsin communities, including Merrill. If you are caught lighting off illegal fireworks, you could face $200 fine.
"The mayor can approve who can have a permit for fireworks," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone. He said those permits are for large, organized fireworks shows.
"We only have a couple in our area this year," said Savone.
But even when using legal fireworks, the practice is still dangerous.
"About 50 to 60 percent of all injuries are injuries to the extremities...hands and feet," said Chief Savone.
The most common injuries are burns.
Despite the risks, fireworks stores in central Wisconsin are busier than ever.
"Everybody has a small addiction. Everybody is a kid when it comes to fireworks," said Fireworks Depot Store Manager Derrick Sukow.
It's legal for fireworks stands to sell all kinds of products, including popular shells that shoot hundreds of feet into the air. Employees told us they always remind people who plan on lighting those kinds of fireworks, they need a permit.
"The most important thing is to be safe, follow the laws and be respectful," said Sukow.
Meanwhile, local police said they'll do their best to keep everyone safe.
"You pretty much have to accept the fact that people are going to be shooting off fireworks. It's illegal. We'll enforce it when we can," said Merrill Police Chief Ken Neff.
Authorities told us if you want to play it safe, leave the fireworks to the professionals.
You can check out a list of fireworks shows across our viewing area, by clicking here: http://www.waow.com/story/22737497/2013/07/01/fireworks-displays-in-central-wisconsin
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