Battle Ground set to light up New Year's

Fireworks sales begin Thursday for seven-hour window of festivities

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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BATTLE GROUND — While the topic of fireworks has sparked debate in Clark County and Vancouver, both of which have either mulled or placed heightened restrictions on personal pyrotechnics, that's not the case in one city where fireworks go on sale Thursday.

A fireworks stand sponsored by the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce starts its annual five-day run Thursday at the corner of Southwest 12th Avenue and West Main Street. The stand will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Although there have been restrictions placed on discharging New Year's Eve fireworks elsewhere in the county — particularly on unincorporated land, where fireworks remain forbidden — Battle Ground residents will be able to lawfully light fuses within city limits during a seven-hour window from 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 1 a.m. the following day.

The chamber, which has sponsored the stand since 2008, expects to make between $3,000 and $4,000 from the sale of fireworks.

Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy of Clark County Fire & Rescue said setting off fireworks in January poses little risk of causing brush or roof fires because of the near-constant drizzle the region faces, but exploding mortars can spell other types of concerns.

"The real danger during the winter is for people to be injured," Dawdy said. "If the firework doesn't go off, people should just leave it alone."

But with drying-out Christmas trees serving as kindling both inside and outside homes, Dawdy said it's important for people to get rid of their trees soon or, at the very least, store them away from fireworks.

Dawdy said people should place their spent fireworks into metal containers and store them outside away from buildings.

Noise is another particular concern, especially among animal owners who say the fireworks heighten their pets' anxiety.

Dawdy's office fields numerous calls from residents complaining about the whiz, crackle and boom noises emanating from over their neighbors' homes.

Vancouver banned fireworks on New Year's Eve in 2003, five years after the Clark County Board of Commissioners enacted a similar ban.

The county's other incorporated cities have also placed restrictions on setting off fireworks during the winter holiday.

Despite restrictions elsewhere, Doug Quinn, chairman of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce, said sales have gone smoothly since the chamber began selling fireworks in 2008.

He acknowledged the fireworks stand is not a top moneymaker for the chamber, however. "It's by no means one of our largest elements," he said.

Still, the stand generates thousands of dollars in additional revenue for the chamber, which it spends on speakers and other events.

Shirley Laxson, the chamber's office manager, said the fundraiser had seen a steady stream of business in past years.

"It's a big fundraiser for nonprofits like us," she said. "It is helpful."

Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://www.twitter.com/col_smallcities; tyler.graf@columbian.com.