Saturday, December 3, 2022
Dec. 3, 2022

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Vancouver fire marshal issued citations, confiscated fireworks on holiday

By , Columbian staff writer

The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office issued seven citations to people who were caught lighting fireworks for the Fourth of July, despite a fireworks ban in city limits.

City fire officials also confiscated fireworks 16 times on the holiday and issued nine warnings.

This year followed a trend of fewer fireworks citations in the city. In 2020, the fire marshal’s office issued 45 citations, down from 64 citations in 2019 and 104 citations in 2018, according to Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli.

Scarpelli called this year’s holiday unique because, for the first time, almost all of Clark County joined Vancouver in banning the explosives out of concern for extreme fire risk.

She also attributed the fewer violations to her agency’s continued push to raise awareness for the risk that fireworks pose.

Within the city, fire officials identified nine fireworks-related fires for a total loss of $5,200. According to Scarpelli, most of the damage was to landscaping from grass fires. There were no house fires sparked by fireworks in Vancouver this year and no injuries from fireworks, she said.

Deputy fire marshals and fire code enforcers — accompanied by armed private security — were positioned strategically across the city in order to effectively enforce the ban, Scarpelli said. However, she said her staff was met with much more hostility this year from people violating the ban, including one person who shot a BB gun into a deputy fire marshal’s vehicle. No one was hurt, she said.

Although she estimated that 90 to 95 percent of those in the city for the holiday complied with the ban, she said “a small portion were openly defiant, confrontational and belligerent to fire marshal’s office staff that were enforcing the law.”

Many of the violators they talked to said they knew about the ban but were willing to pay a fine in order to party, Scarpelli said.

However, the fire marshal said there were hardly any complaints coming in compared with previous years, and she said the vast majority of people were understanding of the unsafe conditions that loomed over the holiday.

The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office, which patrolled the unincorporated areas of the county, wrote seven $500 citations on the night of the Fourth, according to Fire Marshal Dan Young. He said most of those were for people whom officers had already warned earlier in the night but who lit fireworks anyway.