The U.S. has long prized personal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of sparkly stuff to set on fire come the Fourth of July. But this year, fire chiefs in some cities across the West Coast are saying no to fireworks.
Excessively hot and dry conditions plus amateur pyrotechnics equals a terrifying wildfire season for western states. Fireworks have started major wildfires in the past, including the 2017 Eagle Creek fire outside Portland, which was started by a 15-year-old boy and burned 50,000 acres. A 2020 gender reveal party in California started a wildfire that killed a firefighter.
Portland, Oregon, broke heat records last Monday with a sizzling 116 degrees. In response, the Portland Fire Department has prohibited all fireworks until further notice. Fire departments in nearby Tualatin, Oregon, have banned fireworks through July 9.
“If we don’t take this proactive step now, I fear the consequences could be devastating,” said Portland fire chief Sara Boone in a statement. “It is not easy to make a decision like this so close to our national holiday, but as fire chief I feel I have a higher responsibility to sometimes make unpopular decisions during unprecedented times to protect life, property and the environment.”
City officials in Yreka, California, which is only thirty miles from the currently raging Lava Fire, have also banned fireworks until further notice. Some Utah, Washington and Montana towns have banned private fireworks this year. Steamboat Springs, Colorado, canceled its official public fireworks show.
Clark County, in southwest Washington state, banned the sale and use of fireworks from June 29 through midnight on the Fourth of July. “We recognize that this decision will cause some hardship to some residents’ celebration plans as well as businesses and non-profit organizations that sell fireworks,” said Eileen Quiring O’Brien, the county council chair, according to KATU. “We empathize with all who are affected, but we must follow county codes. They are in place to protect the welfare and safety of Clark County residents.”
Via The Guardian
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