PORT ANGELES — Consumer fireworks go on sale in Clallam County today, but you’ll need to be outside of Port Angeles and Sequim to set them off legally this Fourth of July.
Under state law, consumer fireworks can be lit in areas that haven’t established local regulations between noon and 11 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to midnight on Independence Day on Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. next Friday.
Legal fireworks include sparklers, fountains, spinners, parachutes and roman candles.
They can be set off during the appropriate times in unincorporated Clallam County and the city of Forks.
Port Angeles and Sequim have banned consumer fireworks.
Officers have discretion to issue citations.
“Really what we’re seeking is voluntary compliance,” Port Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Jason Viada said Thursday.
Exploding fireworks like bottle rockets, firecrackers, missile rockets, cherry bombs and M-80s are illegal.
“I urge everyone to exercise extreme caution using legal fireworks and completely forgo the use of illegal pyrotechnic fireworks,” Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said in a Tuesday announcement.
“In general, anything that explodes is illegal.”
The Port Angeles City Council voted to ban consumer fireworks with strong public support in 2015.
The Sequim City Council followed suit in 2016 after an advisory vote found that 65.6 percent of respondents said they favored a fireworks ban.
Forks municipal code allows for the discharge of legal consumer fireworks beginning today. Clallam County also follows state law.
County commissioners have been discussing a possible fireworks ordinance that would strike a balance between those who believe fireworks are a part of the Independence Day tradition and those who feel that fireworks pose too much of a wildfire risk.
Commissioners have said they would not rush to pass a fireworks ordinance before this July 4.
Local fireworks regulations take effect one year after they are adopted, meaning a county ordinance, if adopted, would take effect in 2021.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office reported 209 fireworks-related injuries and 92 fires caused by fireworks last year.
Bottle rockets have been responsible for most firework-related grass and structure fires in Clallam County, Benedict said.
Even sparklers can ignite fires in dry grass or brush that can rapidly get out of control, Benedict said.
“I urge those who still choose to discharge consumer fireworks in spite of the danger they present to use the utmost caution,” Benedict said.
“Remember that you are responsible [civilly and possibly criminally] for the damage or fires caused by your fireworks — even if they are legal.”
Benedict suggested professional fireworks displays as an alternative to consumer fireworks.
Public displays are scheduled this Thursday in Port Angeles, Forks and Neah Bay.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].