By DON THOMASON
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized a reported 7.5 tons of display fireworks Wednesday from a storage site at 817 Lakeshore Drive after a search warrant was executed.
Grover Crossland, agent in charge of the bureau’s regional office in Little Rock, said Thursday that the fireworks, which were hauled away in at least two tractor-trailer trucks, were owned by Spa Fireworks on Higdon Ferry Road.
While Spa Fireworks has a retail location there, Crossland said the fireworks inside the store are "consumer stuff and that’s not what we were there for."
"All I can tell you is that it was a federal violation in what he did and that was the cause of the seizure," Crossland said.
Austin Banks, ATF public information officer in the New Orleans district office, said Thursday that a "regulatory visit or inspection" of the company led to the investigation and seizure of the reported 7.5 tons of U.S. Department of Transportation class 1.3G fireworks "as a result of various violations."
Spa Fireworks, now incorporated as Spa Display Fireworks LLC, is owned by Tom Daniel, the District 6 city director. The company produces several public fireworks shows each year around the state using the more powerful fireworks, which require ATF licenses and permits.
On Thursday, Daniel refuted the ATF’s statement of the quantity of fireworks seized.
"There was not that much there," he said. "That’s not right. They must be going with kilograms and haven’t changed that to pounds."
Daniel said the alleged violations were not related to the merchandise.
"It’s more or less like a clerical deal. When they came to inspect ... until I get something written from them, I really can’t say anything, because the only thing I have right now is a copy of what they took and the search warrant."
He also said the alleged violations were not related to the storage of the fireworks.
"They were stored in federally approved bunkers. There’s nothing wrong with where they were or what they were."
Banks said no arrests were made or citations issued Wednesday.
"That would all go through the U.S. attorney’s office," he said.
The Arkansas State Police Arson and Bomb team assisted in the operation, Banks said.