Thursday, September 23, 2021
Sept. 23, 2021

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Triple-digit heat rolling into Clark County, prompting warnings

Ridgefield, La Center ban fireworks

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
3 Photos
Henry Lester, 5, kicks water on Friday at the water feature in Esther Short Park, which opened on Thursday. Temperatures are expected to climb into the triple digits over the weekend.
Henry Lester, 5, kicks water on Friday at the water feature in Esther Short Park, which opened on Thursday. Temperatures are expected to climb into the triple digits over the weekend. (Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

As the heat wave rolled in Friday, many wondered about the future of their Fourth of July plans and celebratory fireworks.

The cities of Ridgefield and La Center banned fireworks on Friday.

“Please celebrate Independence Day this year with friends and family, but without fireworks,” Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue Fire Chief John Nohr said in a news release. “The threat of fireworks accidentally igniting a catastrophic fire this year is just too high to allow the use of fireworks.”

Fireworks of all kinds are banned in Vancouver city limits. The Camas-Washougal Fire Department and Clark County Fire District 13 are urging people not to shoot off fireworks, although they are allowed in those areas on the Fourth. Fireworks in Washougal are limited to ones that remain on the ground and don’t explode.

Fire and police in Vancouver and Washougal have said they will have increased patrols next weekend to crack down on illegal fireworks use.

Fireworks are not currently banned in unincorporated areas of Clark County. The county has not reached three state criteria that would allow for the council chair to invoke a countywide fireworks ban.

In order for counties to prohibit fireworks, conditions must be considered “extreme” under guidelines from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, fuel moisture in 10-hour fuels must be below eight anywhere in the county, and the energy release component must be in the 90th percentile.

As of Thursday morning, the burn index for the county was at “moderate,” the fuel moisture content was measured at 11 and the energy release competent was in the 45th percentile, according to the county fire marshal.

Clark County Fire Marshal Dan Young said he will continue to monitor conditions and remain in touch with county officials on where the area stands on fire risk. Even if fireworks are legal next weekend, Young still encouraged people to careful and mindful.

“Please be cognizant of what you’re doing,” he said. “A lot of people are still aware of the Eagle Creek Fire that was started with fireworks. We recommend caution in everything that you do with the heat. Anything that sparks, from a lawn mower or a firework, could start a fire.”

A countywide burn ban also remains in effect until Oct. 1.

Cooling shelters opened Friday, along with splash pads in Vancouver and Battle Ground. A list of cooling shelter hours can be found on Clark County Public Health’s website, clark.wa.gov/public-health.

An excessive heat warning begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, with temperatures forecast to reach 104 degrees. The National Weather Service predicts the heat will top out at 108 degrees Sunday in Vancouver, which would tie the city’s highest recorded temperature. Forecasters say Monday could be just as hot as Sunday, but put the high that day at 105 degrees.

From there, temperatures are likely to remain in the 90s into July, according to the weather service.

Compounding the extreme temperatures, the Southwest Clean Air Agency also issued an air quality warning due to smog in the Vancouver and Portland metro areas. The agency says air quality is expected to reach the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category Saturday through Monday. Officials recommend that those sensitive to smog limit their time outdoors and said people should limit pollution from driving, mowing, painting or using aerosols.

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington is also reminding people to make sure their pets have plenty of water and keep pets off of hot pavement and sand. Try to walk animals early in the morning or late in the evening and be sure they have plenty of water, a Humane Society news release states.

Sign of heatstroke in animals include heavy panting, glossy eyes, lack of coordination, vomiting and collapse. If your pet is overheating, the Humane Society says to get them in the shade or air conditioning and to put cool — but not ice-cold — water-soaked towels on the pet’s head, neck or chest.

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