DERRY, N.H. (AP) – Fireworks sales are booming – as well as challenges in New Hampshire towns where their use is restricted, and in Massachusetts, where fireworks are illegal.

“This year we have seen an increase in reports of fireworks going off as it leads up to the Fourth of July,” said John Romero, police chief in Lawrence, Mass., where police confiscated fireworks and arrested three men last week. “We’ve had more reports of fireworks in the neighborhoods in the past year, and based on our own observations, as well.”

Police in Windham, Derry and Salem, where the towns ban letting off fireworks, know that residents need only travel as far as Londonderry, where there are no restrictions on fireworks, to visit two large dealers. The stores stock large inventories of fireworks, which are different from the novelty items like party poppers, snakes and sparklers sold at department stores and supermarkets, though these items can be dangerous, too, Derry police Capt. Vern Thomas said.

“The worst period is just before Memorial Day through July Fourth,” Thomas said. And after that, “people who didn’t use all their fireworks on the Fourth continue using them during the course of the summer until they get rid of all of their fireworks,” he said.

In Salem, though, deputy police Chief William Ganley said the complaints have remained steady, he hasn’t seen a big increase since last year, when another store opened in Londonderry.

“Fireworks definitely do increase around the Fourth,” Ganley said. “But we haven’t been inundated with complaints over the last few years.”

Londonderry, Kingston and Atkinson allow fireworks without restrictions. State law, however, does restrict certain types of fireworks. Firecrackers, missiles, bottle rockets and salutes are illegal under state law. And federal law prohibits cherry bombs, M-80s and other explosive fireworks, Thomas said.

Regardless of the laws, Windham police Capt. Patrick Yatsevich said some people will use fireworks, and that safety must be foremost in people’s minds.

“Every year, people are injured using consumer fireworks,” Yatsevich said.

Information from: Eagle Tribune,

AP-ES-07-03-07 0500EDT