Fireworks sales set to start Saturday

In unincorporated Clark County, that is; Vancouver stands will open July 2

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

 

Legal discharge days

Unincorporated Clark County, Amboy and Yacolt: Saturday through July 4.

Battle Ground and Ridgefield: Saturday through July 5.

Camas: July 1-4.

La Center: Sunday through July 4.

Vancouver and Washougal: July 4.

Have a Vancouver address but unsure whether you are in city limits? Check online at www.cityofvancouver.us/cmo/page/do-you-live-city-vancouver.

Fireworks go on sale in unincorporated Clark County on Saturday, the first day they can be legally discharged in unincorporated areas and the cities of Amboy, Yacolt, Battle Ground and Ridgefield.

In Vancouver, sales won't start until July 2 and city residents have just one day to set them off, July 4.

As tents are stocked with products that will make some smile and others shudder, fire officials are sending out warnings about the dangers of an extended holiday season that brings out the best — or the worst — in your neighbors, depending on your thoughts about personal fireworks use.

State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy said that there were 341 fireworks-related injuries and fires reported to his office by fire departments and hospitals statewide in 2013.

The majority of incidents occurred on July 4, Duffy said. The demographic sustaining the most injuries was men ages 36 and older, and 51 injuries were caused by illegal devices.

For example, six sparkler bombs resulted in one amputation and injuries — metal puncture wounds and burns — to users' arms, legs, faces and torsos. Sparkler bombs are considered improvised explosive devices, which are illegal to manufacture and possess, Duffy said.

Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli offers tips on how to safely set off fireworks, such as: reading and following directions, setting fireworks off on a paved surface at least 25 feet away from vegetation and keeping a hose nearby. Also, never attempt to relight a dud, and soak spent fireworks in a pail of water, she said. Scarpelli said only sober adults should light fireworks and they should never be held or thrown.

If your clothing catches fire, stop, drop and roll.

While tips for celebrating safely are clear, when and where it's legal to set fireworks off in Clark County is complicated.

Among nine jurisdictions in Clark County, there are five schedules detailing which days people can discharge fireworks. Hours vary, too. In jurisdictions with a Saturday start date, fireworks can be set off from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through July 3. On the Fourth of July, the deadline is midnight. In La Center, fireworks are legal starting 10 a.m. Sunday, but that city has a 10 p.m. curfew with the exception of the Fourth of July, which has an 11 p.m. curfew. Camas allows fireworks to be discharged from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 1-3 and 9 a.m. to midnight July 4. In Washougal and Vancouver, fireworks can only be set off from 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

While a majority of voters in unincorporated Clark County said last year the county should shorten its fireworks season, county commissioners have not taken any action.

County residents approved the advisory vote on fireworks in November. Voter turnout for the election was low — only 22 percent — but 57 percent of those who participated approved of the measure. It called for limiting fireworks sales to three days, July 2-4, and their discharge to the Fourth of July.

That's the same policy Vancouver adopted last year, which goes into effect this year.

Vancouver police officers and deputy fire marshals are teaming up to enforce the new law.

Illegally discharging fireworks in Vancouver carries a minimum fine of $250, while fines for using illegal fireworks start at $500.

Vancouver officials suggest people call 911 to report illegal fireworks use, but asks that people not call 911 on the Fourth of July to complain about fireworks noise during legal discharge hours.