Although the weather certainly hasn’t been indicative of it, the Fourth of July holiday is right around the corner and local officials are gearing up for annual community celebrations and regulation enforcement.
Fireworks go on sale Monday. Local police and fire officials say they will be on patrol to make sure residents celebrate Independence Day safely and legally.
The city of Camas follows state guidelines when it comes to fireworks laws and regulations. That means legal fireworks can be discharged from Monday, June 28, to Monday, July 5.
The Camas fire marshal and police officers will be canvassing the streets on July 4, and a Camas Fire Department brush rig will be making the rounds so that it is readily available in the event of a fire.
“We are going to be out combing the neighborhoods looking for violations and making sure people are following the rules,” said CPD Capt. Rob Skeens.
Traditionally, the most prevalent enforcement issues that come up on the Fourth of July are noise problems, use of illegal fireworks, and potential fire hazards.
Skeens described last year’s fireworks season as “very tame,” with just a few fireworks-related complaints on July 4, several on July 5, and no citations issued at all.
In Washougal, fireworks can only be discharged on July 4, from 9 a.m. to midnight. However, they can be purchased from June 28 to July 5.
Fire Chief Ron Schumacher said law enforcement on their regular patrols would be on the lookout for those not abiding by regulations, which became stricter in 2009.
“Last year we were a little bit lenient,” he said. “This year we will start off with a warning, and after that citations will be issued.”
The fine for a fireworks violation can run up to $300.
Legal fireworks in Washington include items such as sparklers and spinners, cones and fountains, roman candles, and re-loadable mortars — 1 3/4 inches or smaller.
Illegal fireworks include anything bought on tribal lands such as firecrackers and chasers, bottle rockets, and missiles and rockets. In addition, explosive devices such as M-80s, cherry bombs and tennis ball bombs, dry ice bombs, or any legal firework that has been altered are all considered illegal.
Schumacher recommends keeping a garden hose and bucket of water nearby when discharging fireworks.
“Even though we’ve had a wet spring, people still need to be careful,” he said. “We don’t know what the weather will be like in the next two weeks. People need to be safe with their fireworks.”
For those who would prefer to let someone else do the work, there are a handful of local celebrations to choose from:
Washougal 4th of July Celebration
Sunday, July 4, at Capt. William Clark Park, located at 32nd Avenue and Index streets in the Port of Camas-Washougal Industrial Park
The annual Washougal event has been scaled down a bit this year to primarily focus on the free fireworks show, which begins at approximately 10 p.m.
People are invited to bring their own food and beverages (no alcohol or personal fireworks will be allowed).
Earlier this month, the Washougal City Council approved a $15,000 contract with Western Display to put on the fireworks show from a barge on the Columbia River. The city is funding the contract with monies from its state motel tax fund.
Independence Day at Fort Vancouver
Sunday, July 4, at Fort Vancouver
After a one-year hiatus due to limited funding, the area’s largest fireworks show is returning to Fort Vancouver.
Gates will open at 10 a.m., and activities and entertainment begin at noon and run until 10 p.m. when the fireworks display blasts off from Pearson Field.
Cost is $7 per person for children ages 13 and older. Children ages 12 and younger may attend free of charge. Those who purchase tickets online at www.fortvan.org can save $2 per person.
Family, Fun and Fireworks Fourth of July Celebration
Sunday, July 4, at Rock Creek Park in Stevenson
The event will include family activities, live music, food and a fireworks display. The festivities begin at 8 p.m., with “Jive Turkey” playing classic rock and original tunes, and concludes with the fireworks show that will commence at dark. Admission is free.