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Illegal Fireworks Spark Fires — And Seizures


It’s a celebration we all look forward to every year.

Fireworks displays across Central Oregon are annual events, along with the personal fireworks families use in their own backyards.

And it’s those fireworks that had Bend fire and police on edge every year.

“It’s a really hard enforcement action for us to take, only because we are chasing them more or less and when they see us pull up, they hide the fireworks,” said Bend police Lt. Chris Carney said Tuesday.

Anything that explodes, flies, moves across the ground more than six feet, or comes off the ground more than one foot is off-limits.

But Monday night, the sky lit up with more than just the organized fireworks displays.

“We confiscated a lot of illegal fireworks, and these are very expensive fireworks that people go up to Washington state and other states and bring in,” said Bend Fire Marshal Gary Marshall. “Not to say that next year we wont issue citations, just this year I’m not aware of any citations that were issued.”

A lucky break for some in Bend, but tack on an $1,100 fine, and the thrill of an illegal firework isn’t thrilling for your wallet.

Bend police say it’s not worth the risk.

“If it’s your child one time, gets hit, gets seriously injured, loses a finger or whatever that is, the injury to your child or your friend — it’s not worth it,” Carney said.

From Madras to Prineville, Redmond to Bend — dozens of calls, few citations and thousands of dollars of seized illegal fireworks are now in the hands of Central Oregon officials.

For many, they’re an American tradition, but police say leave the big booms to the professionals. It’s safer, it’s cheaper and it’s much more brilliant.

“Bear with us — we want you to have a good time,” Marshall said. “At the same time, we are your consultants and we are asking you to be safe, so you’re protecting your entire community that way.”

Bend fire officials said they had to put out six fires caused by fireworks Monday night — the same number as last year. And they said they hope it will keep decreasing each year.

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