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With July 4, more – but safer – consumer fireworks

Fireworks sales have doubled since 1998, but not injuries.

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Make some noise: Party popper fireworks fill a box in Kodiak, Alaska's fireworks store, on July 2, 2012. Fireworks can be used in the Kodiak Island Borough until July 15.

James Brooks/Kodiak Daily Mirror/AP

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When Pyro City opened its doors in March, it became the state's first retail fireworks store.

Over-the-counter fireworks were illegal in Maine until this year. But now that he's had a taste, Paul Vachon has returned for his second trip.

"I'm looking for something that's colorful but not too loud," he says. "I don't want to worry the neighbors. But I'll be back before July 4. That's when I can go all out."

Fireworks sales have more than doubled in the United States since 1998, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. Julie Heckman, director of the trade group, attributes the recent gains to a near-nationwide easing of regulations.

Since 2010, Arizona and Rhode Island have legalized consumer fireworks. Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Utah have expanded what may be purchased without a permit. By relaxing their laws, states stand to gain $500,000 to $1 million a year in tax revenues, according to Ms. Heckman.

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