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Fireworks sales to start in C.O. amid firefighters’ fear of ‘catastrophic’ wildfire season

(Update: Adding video, comments from Bend Fire and Rescue, C.O. residents)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A classic Fourth of July tradition is set to return to Central Oregon this week. And while experts advise taking caution, others are excited.

"Well, you get the fireworks because it makes everybody happy,” Bend Resident Carina McCarthy said Monday. “I mean, I still get excited when I see fireworks, my kids get excited its an amazing experience to have with them."

Bend Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said there are real dangers from fireworks use this summer. 

"This summer has a potential for being catastrophic," Derlacki said. 

He said the drought conditions, early fire season declaration and upcoming heat wave makes the threat even higher.

"As we've seen today it's super-dry, it's super-hot and it's super-windy,” Derlacki said. “We're extremely fearful of the potential for fire right now."

Derlacki, the City of Bend, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal emphasize the legal and safe use of fireworks.

The city is stepping up educational efforts, as well as enforcement, offering tips on how to be safe at: https://www.bendoregon.gov/government/departments/fire-rescue/safety-tips-emergency-preparedness/fireworks

The State of Oregon considers any fireworks that explode, eject fire, fly into the air, or travel more than six feet on the ground, illegal.

Some Central Oregon residents are concerned about the use of any fireworks.

"It sparks one little thing and then, a big fire explodes,” Prineville native Rickie Kester said. 

"I don't think it's smart, but it's inevitable. It's the Fourth of July, and everyone wants to buy fireworks."

While others believe it's okay to use, it's on the individual to be responsible.

"I think people just need to be careful about it, have all the fun that you want to have,” former Sisters resident Kyle Wattenburg said. "I think if people are smart about it, there shouldn't be an issue, in my mind."

McCarthy emphasized safe and proper use as well. 

"It's the people who use any fireworks, legal or otherwise, improperly,” McCarthy said. "There's just ways that you can mis-manage your usage of fireworks, and it's those people that create a negative impact."

Derlacki says if you can hold off on lighting your own fireworks, please do so.

However, if you do buy legal fireworks from a store in Central Oregon, he recommends you light them on a non-combustible surface like concrete, gravel or asphalt, clear the area of any brush, have an adult with young people, keep water nearby, and afterward soak the fireworks in a bucket overnight.

"Use them safely, dispose of them safely, we can eliminate a lot of those fires and have a great Fourth of July,” Derlacki said. 


News release from the Oregon State Fire Marshal:

State Fire Marshal Asks Oregonians to Keep Fireworks Use Legal and Safe

SALEM, Ore. - The Office of State Fire Marshal, the Oregon Fire Service, natural resource agencies, and Oregon licensed fireworks wholesalers ask Oregonians to “keep it legal and keep it safe” when using all fireworks. The 2021 Oregon fireworks retail sales season opens June 23rd and runs through July 6th. The OSFM and its partners want everyone to know what fireworks are legal to use in Oregon without a permit, where residents can use them, and how to use fireworks safely.

In 2020, the U.S. saw a record-setting year when it comes to the consumption of fireworks. American’s consumed 385.8 million pounds of fireworks, a 55 percent increase from the previous year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nationwide, children 0 to 4 years old are injured by fireworks and treated at an emergency department more than any other age group. (5.3 injuries per 100,000 people). Older teens, 15 to 19 years old, have the second-highest injury rate (4.4 injuries per 100,000 people). Males represent 66 percent of all firework-related injuries.

In Oregon, between 2016 and 2020, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, and Lane Counties have had the highest rates of firework-related injuries.

With an arid spring, much of Oregon experiencing some form of drought, and concerns over an active wildfire season, the Office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal is asking people to be aware of the dry conditions. Always have a bucket of water on hand to drown spent or used fireworks, have a charged hose nearby, and never light fireworks near dry grass or areas that could catch fire easily.

“We ask that those using fireworks be responsible when using them,” Assistant Chief Deputy with the Office of the Oregon State Marshal Mark Johnston said. “Every year across the state, we see fires sparked because of improper use or use of illegal fireworks. Our message is to keep it legal and keep it safe as people celebrate the holiday.”

In Oregon, residents and visitors can only purchase consumer legal fireworks from permitted fireworks retailers and stands. State regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Fireworks can also start structural fires that threaten lives and property, as we have seen in past years. People who plan to visit public lands and parks for the July 4 holiday are asked to leave all fireworks at home. The use of fireworks is prohibited in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management lands, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, on state beaches, in state parks, and in state campgrounds.

For residents who purchase legal fireworks, the OSFM encourages everyone to practice the four Bs of safe fireworks use:

  • Be prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.
  • Be safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks.
  • Be responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud. Please wait for 15 to 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water before disposal.
  • Be aware: use only legal fireworks and use them only in legal places.

Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground without a permit issued by the OSFM. Fireworks, commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers, are illegal in Oregon without a permit. Officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500 per. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children.

The OSFM has published FAQs for commonly answered questions about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, permits for the retail sale of fireworks, and state rules for their use and enforcement activities. OSFM’s fireworks education materials for sharing on social media also can be found on its website.

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

Comments

44 Comments

  1. Once again the City of Bend refuses to ban fireworks out of greed for the revenue these fireworks stands bring in. We also have people bring in illegal fireworks from out of state every year, we have several people in our neighborhood without fail that fire off M 80’s and bottle rockets that terrify our animals into all hours of the night and day and risk catching our dry grass and Junipers on fire. We are being told they are going to enforce the laws of illegal fireworks by whom ?? the police presence in Bend is minimal so who is going to enforce the laws ? With our fire season already starting out with smoke filled air we now run the risk of more fire danger within the city limits of Bend.

    1. Yep, every year we have people in our neighborhood setting off sky rockets and M80’s. The people who are doing it do not own their home, they rent it. If they owned their own home, they may have more pride of ownership and care about causing a fire. Last year a group of kids tried to set a fire in a common area. I live in a wooded area with lots of fuel for fire. I called the police and nothing was done. The only thing I can say every year now, is thank God we have house and fire insurance. I do think there are other ways of celebrating the Forth of July, and its true meaning. A lot of people no longer care about the true meaning of the 4th of July. It is just a reason to set of fire works, and a day off from work. It is time fire works on the 4th of July be banned permanently. Again, there are other ways to celebrate the 4th of July.

      1. Yes, let’s celebrate the country that gave us liberty and often stands as a beacon of freedom for the world when it’s most needed by banning fireworks.

        “Americans” like you really depress me. Those who surrender liberty for safety don’t get nor deserve to be safe.

        Thousands of Americans buy illegal fireworks every year and the state hasn’t burned down yet..

    2. Like that’s going to help with the few idiots. People like you need to lock yourself in a vault so you always feel safe. Pathetic! You better watch out for all the kids lighting off fireworks in the parking lots! Watch out you scared little whiny baby! If you’re not prepared for fire around here, then you’re an idiot like the rest.

  2. There’ll be some fires happen because of carelessness just hope people don’t get wacky with the fireworks as they’re fun but extremely dangerous.

      1. I am on a neighborhood association firework committee. Sadly, the pd does not respond to your reports, nor do they monitor the firework email reporting line. If this ticks you off, it should. Please email the city council (mailto:council@bendoregon.gov) as well as videoing illegal fireworks. Continue to call the police so they know the community is concerned. It is apparently up to us to keep ourselves safe.

      2. 2pee, that’s a good one. First to report fireworks you’ll have to select the correct prompt, then put on hold, finally a live person either overwhelmed or disinterested will take your complaint. Eventually a woke progressive officer may get back to you within 12 hrs.If it doesn’t pertain to social justice, law enforcement in Bend under the authority of our ult-lib DA and ex portland BPD Chief has become almost non existent and at best selective.

        1. This effing clown is so “woke” they’re afraid to interact with people. They’ve got that Ben Shapiro/Charlie Kirk level of fear of fellow Americans.

  3. When I was a kid, we’d ride our bikes to the 7-11 and buy bottle rockets by the gross and to this day I love me some fireworks, but I haven’t lit any off in maybe a decade now. It’s just been too dry. Not a good idea.

    1. You do realize that 90% of all legal fireworks sold from stands and tents in Central Oregon are sold by nonprofits like youth leagues and faith-based organizations?

  4. Well Duh! Why are we selling fireworks in the west anyway? Just seems like common sense to prohibit sales of fireworks, it’s just too risky. Is everyone really this oblivious to the situation we are in? 🤬🤬

    1. Not oblivious – just too greedy to stop. Besides, if you ban firework sales, you can bet a bunch of “entrepreneurs” and their customers would pull out the “we have rights” and victimhood cards.

  5. Seems rather lame considering the current drought and the dry conditions we are all living in. Why would anybody be ignorant enough to light off fireworks, let alone buy them.

    A ban on selling them ~ makes the most sense.

    Not that it matters to those who don’t care, they’ll still buy them and light them regardless of the damage it can do.

    1. We are always living in extremely hot and dry conditions here in Bend on the 4th. Despite the reputation fireworks actually cause very few fires here. Bend has extreme problems with fires cause from smoking, debris burns, charcoal briquet BBQs, arson. If your really concerned with fires there is much more realistic causes you could champion against. As for the tens of thousands of central Oregon family’s who safely enjoy their fireworks every year, let it go.

  6. The pd does not enforce firework regulations. If you want to do more than just vent, please email and call city council and representatives, and video any illegal firework displays with notes about location. Call the cops even though there is no enforcement. Email the videos. Every year this town gets set on fire somewhere. One day we will run out of luck.

      1. Such compassionate advice. I’ll bet the dozens of veterans for whom each boom from your self-gratifying activity represents a potential horrifying flashback really appreciate it.

    1. Why? How about quantifying your statement with factual info? You know , like how many forest fires are attributed to fireworks? I have yet to see the neighborhood asphalt street burn down in my neighborhood.

    1. The 4th is the most republican of all holidays, you fly your black/blue flag while shooting off Chinese fireworks while getting drunk and talking about how you hate most Americans.

  7. For a real rush why don’t fireworks enthusiasts just stay home and set fire to a couple 100 dollars bills. No difference. Buy fireworks or burn money- it is the same thing. Fools.

  8. Every summer, same story. Party poopers complaining, while many are partying and having a good time. Yet year after year luckily no major fire from fireworks. But, what do facts matter now-a-days? Keep complaining!

  9. Que all the ol fuddy duddys who loved fireworks as children but now care more about the little Fido than silly traditions comments in 3,2,1….

  10. Back in my day, they launched fireworks from a barge in Mirror Pond. That was REAL fireworks they’d land on Kelleher’s lawn. haha.

    Buncha kids, know nothing about the fun of blowing things up.

  11. Whether legal or illegal, there will always be individuals who insist on celebrating their freedom any way they want and they don’t care if it’s dangerous, or if it bothers their neighbors or, for that matter, what LE or fire officials say. They’ll find a way to do what the h*** they want, no matter what.

  12. The height of human insanity. Ignite and shoot sparks into the environment during critical fire season… for entertainment. It’s just so stupid. But, as the 4th of July reminds us..We’re FREE ! Free to be careless idiots who can’t modify our behavior even in the face of glaringly obvious reasons to do so.

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