(Update: adding video, new info)
City extends state of emergency, fireworks use ban through end of August
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend announced Thursday it is extending the local state of emergency in response to extreme weather conditions through the end of August, including a ban on use of fireworks that helped quiet the city over the Fourth. Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore, hinted to NewsChannel 21 similar restrictions on the use and possibly sale of fireworks could soon be adopted into permanent city code.
"I've been in the city for 20 years, I've worked with the city for about 10," Skidmore said. "With each year, the calls for prohibiting the use of fireworks grows louder."
Skidmore said city councilors will consider permanent changes regarding fireworks regulations at a meeting next month.
"Whether it's seasonally, year round -- it could look at sale of fireworks, it could look at use of fireworks," he said. "We could be looking at professionally produced shows such as the one on Pilot Butte. So a broad range of topics to discuss, and it looks like council will be taking that up some time in August."
The emergency order includes mobilizing city resources to provide support services to unhoused community members and the immediate ban on the use of all fireworks within the city of Bend, according to the announcement, which continues below:
The amended emergency order extends the expiration date from July 9 to August 31 and updates the findings to be more current.
“We appreciate the community’s assistance over the Fourth of July weekend in not using fireworks,” said city Chief Operating Officer and Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore. “We had many fewer calls for service, with only one citation issued for use of fireworks. Our community stepped up and helped keep Bend safe.”
Despite slightly cooler temperatures this week, local fire risk is still extreme, officials said, with dry fire fuels in Bend and around the city. Temperatures are expected to rise again in the coming days, continuing to impact unhoused and vulnerable community members.
"Extending this emergency order provides the city the most flexibility to support unhoused community members and preserve public safety and water resources during these extreme weather conditions," the announcement said. The City Council is expected to ratify the emergency declaration at its July 21 meeting.
Lynne Ouchida, community outreach manager for the Humane Society of Central Oregon, said the city's first fireworks ban also greatly reduced the number of lost dogs brought to the shelter.
She said the week surrounding July 4th is usually their busiest time of the year, with fireworks scaring many dogs away from their homes and onto the streets. For example, five years ago, the shelter had 16 lost dogs on July 5th. This year, they only had one.
"We always wondered what would happen, but to actually, after 30 years in this business, to witness it, I can only say it is the best thing to happen and to see," Ouchida told NewsChannel 21. "I love witnessing that positive impact that the banning has had on animals, and I hope that it continues."
Pat Bowling, manager of BrightSide Animal Center in Redmond, echoed a similar sentiment. She said the shelter had reduced numbers this year as well, and would like to see such bans stick for good.
If Bend cannot ban fireworks altogether, Ouchida suggested the city use the new silent fireworks displays for the large show at Pilot Butte. That way, animals and people will not be impacted by the explosive nature of the fireworks.
The city of Redmond's fireworks use ban already extends for 60 days; Deschutes County commissioners have not yet discussed whether to extend the ban, an official said.
NewsChannel 21's Max Goldwasser will have more in his report First at Ten on Fox.
“It is likely that the City Council will engage in a conversation regarding fireworks regulations, starting in August,” said Skidmore. “But through this summer, we are asking community members to refrain from lighting fireworks due to high heat, drought conditions, water curtailment and the extremely dry fuel conditions.”
Community members are encouraged to report the use of fireworks via email at email@example.com. Use of fireworks posing an immediate risk to persons or property are emergencies and should be reported by calling 911. Response to all 911 calls for service are based on priority.