No ban on fireworks pursued in Eugene

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The Eugene City Council will not pursue a blanket fireworks ban, but members say they want increased enforcement against those who use already-illegal fireworks next year.

Last year, the City Council limited the use of legal fireworks to 16 days a year, around the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, the Register-Guard reports. This year, the council banned fireworks in parts of south Eugene over the Fourth of July holiday weekend due to the fire threat.

At Wednesday’s council work session, only Councilor Betty Taylor said she would support a blanket ban on fireworks next year. She said in her ward of south Eugene it is quieter, and thanks to the ban this year residents saw less debris in the streets.

“The best thing is to encourage people to go to public legal displays,” she said.

Instead council members suggested limiting fireworks to specific areas of the city and increasing enforcement of fireworks rules.

During the Fourth of July, the Eugene Police Department spent more than $16,000 to have six officers work overtime and respond only to fireworks-related complaints — doubling the $8,000 spent in 2014.

Officers issued three citations and 17 warnings citywide during this year’s holiday.

Eugene police Lt. Scott Fellman said enforcing fireworks rules can be challenging because by the time someone calls, the fireworks have been set off and offenders have often left when officers arrive.

The council hopes to finalize its fireworks rules for 2016 by the end of the year so that fireworks vendors can know them before they order their inventory.