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A map showing the locations of US fireworks sellers as described above.
FLASHES AND BANGS FOREVER

The places in the US that are the farthest from fireworks

David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

There are thousands of locations selling fireworks in the US. The weeks leading up to US Independence Day, on July 4, are peak sales season. In some areas, it’s the only period in the year when sales are legal. Sellers often set up temporary stands and tents across the US to meet demand.

There are so many places to buy fireworks in the US at peak season that a traveler driving from Bangor, Maine to Miami, Florida on I-95 will never be more than 35 miles (56 km) from a location selling fireworks, according to a Quartz analysis.

A traveler could drive the entire length of I-5, from Mexico to Canada, without ever being more than 35 miles from a fireworks seller.

Such ubiquitous access, the willingness of many buyers to break the law by setting them off in areas where fireworks are banned, and the large number of people stuck at home, out of work, or out of school are making the explosions hard to escape in many cites. Complaints about illegal fireworks displays are up significantly in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oakland.

Seemingly, the best you can do is get very far away from sellers. Quartz collected the locations of over 7,000 fireworks-sales locations from company websites and Yelp to determine the areas in the contiguous US that are the farthest from legal fireworks sellers: the fireworks deserts of the US.

The middle of Illinois

Illinois bans the sale of most fireworks. That means the deeper you get into the state, the farther you get from fireworks sellers. The city of  Bloomington is over 100 miles from sellers in neighboring Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kentucky.

Nonetheless, being far from a store in a fireworks desert hasn’t kept pyrotechnic scofflaws in Illinois at bay. This year, residents are have reported multiple illegal firework displays to the Bloomington Police.

Harney County, Oregon

Off a dirt road near the “On the Rim Waterhole,” this fireworks desert in Oregon is on land owned by the US government where fireworks are banned. The nearest places to buy fireworks are all at least 130 miles away—either in-state near Bend, or out of state in Idaho or California. The nearest privately-owned land is about 3 miles away.

White Pine County, Nevada

It’s not just an ecological desert 10 miles west of Lund, Nevada—it’s a fireworks desert, too. The spot is at least 130 miles from the nearest fireworks-selling locations we could find in and around Las Vegas, Goldfield, and Battle Mountain.

Phillips County, Montana

Near the Canadian border in Eastern Montana is a spot in Phillips County that is at least 100 miles from the nearest fireworks store. Phillips has about 4,000 people living on 5,000 sq miles of land.

Setting off fireworks in the city of Malta, where about half the county’s population lives, is only legal on July 4. The Sheriff has asked residents to use “common courtesy” when lighting them. Bringing fireworks bought in Canada into the US is illegal without a license.

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