Camas marks first Fourth of July with new fireworks laws

Changes to city ordinance were made last year

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In the wake of concerns about fireworks misuse and noise, in May 2011 the Camas City Council approved an ordinance with a more restrictive discharge and sale policy.

Because the law didn’t take effect until one year from the day it was approved, the upcoming Fourth of July holiday will be the first under the new rules. Deputy Fire Marshal Randy Miller said he has been working to get the word out.

“For a long time, the history of fireworks laws in Camas have been that they followed state law,” Miller said. “We are now back in education mode.”

Miller said he has been distributing information during local events like the recent Camtown Youth Festival, and prior to the end of the public school year 5,000 flyers printed with the new laws were distributed as part of the elementary and middle school backpack program.

According to the new guidelines, sale, purchase and discharge of consumer fireworks within Camas city limits are allowed July 1 through July 3, between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., and July 4, between 9 a.m. and midnight. On July 5, fireworks can only be purchased and sold — discharge is not allowed.

Violation of fireworks laws, a misdemeanor, can result in a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to 30 days, according to the ordinance. But Miller said the focus this year will be education before ticketing, as the city’s fire and police departments once again come together to patrol the area.

CPD Capt. Shyla Nelson said Camas police officers will be spending extra time canvassing local neighborhoods this weekend and on July 4. She said she expects an increase in call volume about illegal fireworks due to the change in city ordinance.

“With our focus on neighborhood patrols, we are hoping to increase our visibility in the community during the Fourth of July season,” Nelson said.

Miller said he believes most citizens want to follow the rules when it comes to fireworks.

“I think our citizens have had a responsible approach, for the most part,” he said. “I have seen a lot of neighborhoods where they would keep a bucket of water nearby while setting off fireworks, then after their parties they would clean up and sweep up. I’m proud of the way they’ve responded.”

Much of that past success, he said, is due to the educational effort that has taken place and joint police and fire patrols.

“We actually started seeing good results with that,” he said. “We think we can get there again, but it will take some time.”