Members of a local church are upset after the City of Tulsa shut down their fireworks stand at 111th St. and S. Yale Ave.
The Broken Arrow Church of the Nazarene had set up the stand to raise funds for church camps and a mission trip.
"We go to camp every year, and a lot of us wouldn't be able to pay for it if we didn't do a fundraiser like this," Nina Underwood, 16, said. "We didn't know our stand was going to have these problems.
After the City of Tulsa got complaints from residents in the area about the stand violating city ordinances for selling fireworks in city limits, the fire marshal and several Tulsa Police officers shut down the stand on Wednesday.
The stand sits on restricted Indian land owned by members of the Muscogee Creek Nation. The property owners got a permit from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to sell fireworks on the site, and the Muscogee Creek Nation then gave them a license.
But city leaders say that creates a complicated issue.
"It's sort of on an island, but it's completely surrounded by Tulsa land," Jarred Brejcha, Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett's Chief of Staff, said.
Brejcha said people could have bought fireworks legally at the stand, but the second the stepped off the property they would have been in violation of the fireworks ordinance. The ordinance dates back to 1938, and makes it illegal to buy, sell, light or even possess fireworks in Tulsa city limits.
But Underwood said enforcing the ordinance in this case was unfair.
"It's surprising, because there are so many other fireworks stands that we feel that are doing pretty much the same thing," she said.
Brejcha said several stands are located near city limits, but no others are actually inside Tulsa's boundaries. One stand located on Pine Street between N. Yale Ave. and N. Harvard Ave. is the closest to city lines.
"That location is not inside the incorporated city limits of Tulsa. It's actually in Tulsa County," Brejcha said.
"When they leave that facility and then get on, for example, Pine, they’re not getting into solely Tulsa
incorporated city limits, they’re actually going onto a fenceline."
So there would be no violation of the city ordinance.
"There is no other example," Brejcha said. "If there was, we'd be reacting in the same way."
While the church has stopped selling fireworks at the stand, it remains set up, filled with the explosive products. Church members were holding out hope somebody would help them find another site to set up that wouldn't violate any ordinances. If that doesn't happen, they will have to pack everything up and ship the fireworks back to the distributor.
Those caught buying, selling, lighting or possessing fireworks in Tulsa city limits could face a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Anybody who sees people with fireworks in city limits is asked to call and report the information to the City of Tulsa's non-emergency line: 918-596-9222.