For more than 75 years, the state of Iowa has banned the sale of all fireworks.
One of the main reasons? Two major fires in the 1930s, including one devastating blaze in Spencer.
For Brent Hoffman, 81 years is enough. He thinks fireworks deserve a second chance in Iowa.
"Fireworks are safe, and they are fun, as just about every state in our great union recognizes and are allowed to purchase legally," said Hoffman.
Back in 1931, a fire, widely believed to be started by a sparkler, took out a huge part of Spencer, Iowa. It burned nearly 100 buildings, and caused more than $2 million worth of damage, which was serious money in those days.
"And the legislature reacts by banning all fireworks except sparklers," said Hoffman.
Hoffman says changing the law wouldn't just be good for potential buyers. It would also create a whole new market.
"It's very difficult to compete with South Dakota and Nebraska, especially in this niche, this corner of Iowa and the fireworks law is reflective of that larger problem," said Hoffman.
Local lawmakers agree that when sessions resume in January in Des Moines, the time might be right to give fireworks another try, though it won't be a top priority.
"If looked at thoughtfully, there's probably a correct way to expand the use of fireworks in Iowa," said Rep. Chris Hall, a Sioux City Democrat. "Keep dollars here in Sioux City and also preserve public safety."
"I definitely think if Minnesota and South Dakota and Nebraska all have an industry that we don't, I think it makes sense to look at it, from that perspective," said Rep. Jeremy Taylor, a Sioux City Republican.
But not everyone's on board with the potential move. Spencer's fire chief says even the most trained folks can have trouble avoiding accidents.
"They still have incidents," said Duncan. "You know, things are just too unforgiving. Basically, if you've got the wrong amount of stuff, that just happens so fast you don't know what."
Retailers say it won't be easy to create a fireworks business out of nothing either. There's a tradition and trust built from certain brands.
"Everyone just comes back year after year because they like what they get and they like dealing with us," said Tyler Kruse of Zort's Fireworks in North Sioux City, S.D.
Even so, it's a change Hoffman is hoping will be considered soon.
In Iowa, sparklers and only a few novelty items are available at the retail level. Right now, fines vary from county to county, but can be more than $100.
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