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Clark County fireworks sellers are fired up

Vendors look to New Year’s festivities to soften financial blow from sales hiatus

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
4 Photos
Brett Corpuz of Portland joins a crowd of shoppers as he picks up fireworks ahead of the New Year's holiday at Mean Gene Fireworks in Hazel Dell on Thursday afternoon. It has been about 18 months since vendors could sell fireworks. Although Clark County's interim ordinance is increasing business opportunities for firework stands, vendors are still struggling to make up for previous financial losses.
Brett Corpuz of Portland joins a crowd of shoppers as he picks up fireworks ahead of the New Year's holiday at Mean Gene Fireworks in Hazel Dell on Thursday afternoon. It has been about 18 months since vendors could sell fireworks. Although Clark County's interim ordinance is increasing business opportunities for firework stands, vendors are still struggling to make up for previous financial losses. ( Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

New Year’s Eve firework sales in Clark County are helping vendors slowly recuperate from a financial blow over the summer.

The Clark County Council adopted an interim ordinance to permit the sale of fireworks from noon Dec. 27 to 11 p.m. Dec. 31, which is set to expire in six months.

The ordinance wasn’t void of criticism, however. Those opposing fireworks sales highlighted the risks associated with setting off the explosives, including fires, injuries and property damage. Others also mentioned the stress it can cause to veterans with PTSD, pets and wild animals.

Prior to this allowance, fireworks were banned in late June because of extreme heat and dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s absolutely safe now,” said Gene Marlow, owner of Mean Gene Fireworks. “You can’t catch anything on fire this time of the year, unless (people) set it off in their house.”

To Learn More

For more information on when and where fireworks are legal, visit

clark.wa.gov/code-administration/fireworks

Fireworks vendors usually have just under two weeks to sell their products; five days for New Year’s Eve and one week for the Fourth of July. It’s been about 18 months since vendors could sell fireworks. Considering the Fourth of July is the most profitable time for firework stands, there was a severe hit to the business; Marlow said he lost about $100,000.

“I’m thankful to have New Year’s to get caught up. It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.

Tyler Pinney, a Blackjack Fireworks employee, said this is the first year the stand has sold fireworks for New Year’s in more than a decade. Doing so put the vendor in a better financial position, but the brief sale window isn’t enough to offset the previous year’s financial losses.

There will also be a greater strain on the firework stands moving forward because shipping costs have tripled, Marlow said, which will increase the costs of some products by 25 to 50 percent in 2022. The industry’s exploding costs are not unique, though, as it falls in line with the inflation of other consumer goods due to surging freight costs.

Where to expect fireworks, how to dispose of them

Firework use differs between jurisdictions within the county. The cities of Vancouver, La Center and Ridgefield prohibit the discharge of fireworks, whereas other small cities in the county allow their use on New Year’s Eve. Residents in unincorporated Clark County, Amboy, Battle Ground, Camas, Washougal, Woodland and Yacolt are permitted to set off fireworks from 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Those who use fireworks where they are prohibited can be fined $500 or more.

To properly dispose of used fireworks, put the debris in water overnight before placing it in a garbage bag or can. Throwing the litter away before it’s finished smoldering can increase the risk of fires. If debris isn’t cleaned up, it can be washed into storm drains that lead to natural waterways and harm wildlife.

Unused fireworks can injure waste and recycling workers when they transfer materials between facilities. Avoid discarding these items and, instead, locate a designated drop-off site.

For more information on determining what fireworks are illegal to use, as well as how to celebrate safety, visit clark.wa.gov/code-administration/fireworks. Residents can also determine if they are permitted to use fireworks in their area using an interactive map on the website.

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