With hot and dry weather expected leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, residents will have to take extra precautions with fireworks, fire officials warn.
“This year, natural vegetation will be extra dry, so it is more important to be careful,” Tumwater Fire Chief John Carpenter said.
Thurston County reported 34 fires and injuries last year.
Safety also is a concern; in the past two years, Thurston County residents have been killed or injured by exploding cannons in home Fourth of July celebrations.
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In 2007, an exploding cannon sent shrapnel into the chest of 8-year-old Devan Vyborny, killing him as he stood in the backyard of his grandparents’ Littlerock-area home. Last year, two adults and an 11-year-old boy sustained serious injuries when struck by shrapnel from an exploding cannon in Rochester.
More than 25 percent of the 785 fireworks-related incidents reported in Washington last year involved children with no adult supervision, state Fire Marshal Michael G. Matlick said in a news release. Fireworks caused 518 fires that did $36 million in property damage, he said.
Local fireworks regulations:
Residents in unincorporated Thurston County may use personal fireworks only between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sales began Sunday and continue through noon Monday.
Personal fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Fireworks may be sold and purchased today through Saturday.
Olympia Police Sgt. Jim Partin said police will respond to the scene of a complaint and remind people of the ordinance. “Most people are just trying to have a good time, and we just want to make sure that they are using safe and sane fireworks,” he said.
People who possess illegal fireworks or discharge fireworks improperly in Olympia can be fined up to $300, Partin said.
“If (the officer) feels the person has learned their lesson, then a reminder of the ordinance may only be necessary,” he said.
Personal fireworks are banned. Voters in 2005 passed Proposition 1, which prohibited the sale and discharge of fireworks in the city.
Thor Hoyte, attorney for the Nisqually Tribe, said fireworks sales on the reservation are not restricted by local or state laws.
“Make sure the fireworks you purchase are legal where you discharge them,” said Karen Jones, deputy state fire marshal.
Jeremy Sween, who owns the Black Cat fireworks stand at 3333 Martin Way in Olympia, says everything his stand carries is allowed under city and county codes.
“Typically families are willing to pay $50 to $100,” he said.
“Make sure you use all of your fireworks because it is illegal to possess them after July 5,” Jones said.