Dry conditions cause for alarm with fireworks

A 2011 Edmonds fireworks display closeup, from Chad Emerson.
A 2011 fireworks display closeup, from Chad Emerson.

The extreme dryness and hot temperatures throughout Washington state this summer are creating conditions for catastrophic fires from fireworks discharge, according to an announcement sent Tuesday from Snohomish County Fire Chiefs’ Association.

Every year firefighters have concerns about fires and injuries from fireworks on the Independence Day holiday. This year concerns are heightened, not only because of dry conditions, but also because the holiday falls on a Saturday.

“We realize that the 4th is on a Saturday this year, and that many, many people will be enjoying the weekend with family, friends and fireworks,” said Merlin Halverson, chair of the Snohomish County Fire Chiefs’ Association.

In areas of unincorporated Snohomish County, fireworks can ONLY be discharged on July 4 from 9 a.m. until midnight. This is true also of some cities like Monroe, Arlington, and Lake Stevens. Other cities like Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mill Creek, Everett, Mukilteo and Gold Bar have a complete ban on fireworks sales and discharge.

Halverson, who is also the Sultan fire chief, reminds people who choose to discharge their own fireworks, to adhere to these laws and safety recommendations:

· Only discharge on private property with the owner’s permission
· Wear eye protection whenever lighting any firework
· Use only consumer “Class C” fireworks
· Discharge only when and where your local laws allow
· Never discharge fireworks on public property, including schools, streets, and forests

“All big fires start small,” said Kim Schroeder, president of the Snohomish County Fire Prevention Association, a division of the county Chiefs’ Association. “If you see a fire start, call 911 right away and be able to give the address where you are calling from. That will help get firefighters there faster!”

Schroeder encourages people to avoid discharging consumer fireworks and instead, consider attending a public fireworks display. For a complete list of public displays, see the State Fire Marshal’s website.

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