Fireworks stands open Sunday
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
June 26, 2009 · 2:08 PM
Legal Independence Day celebrations will begin with a bang this Sunday as fireworks stands open and it becomes lawful to light Roman candles, sparklers, spinners, cones, fountains and the rest of the safe-and-sane pyrotechnics.
Battalion Chief Ray Merrill with the Oak Harbor Fire Department urges celebrants to keep it safe and don’t burn down any homes or Hyundais. There’s a reason some fireworks are illegal. Last year, for example, illegal fireworks started a fire on the cedar shake roof of an Oak Harbor house.
“Fortunately, a neighbor saw the smoke before it got really serious,” Merrill said. Also, he said fireworks caused car fires as well as many brush and grass fires, but thankfully no significant injuries in recent years.
Merrill admits the rules are a little complicated about what types of fireworks are legal. Missiles and rockets aren’t legal, but mortars smaller than 1.75 inches are allowed. The best bet, he said, is to buy fireworks at stands in the city, where they are guaranteed to be state sanctioned.
Fireworks cannot be used on public land.
“You can’t drive around and throw them out the window,” he added.
Some of the fireworks, like firecrackers and bottle rockets, can be purchased on Indian reservations, but they can only be discharged on tribal lands.
And some fireworks, like M-80s and cherry bombs, are illegal everywhere. Possession of illegal explosive devices, including altered legal fireworks, is a felony.
“With M-80s and M-100s, we are supposed to get the bomb squad involved,” Merrill said.
The fire department has a large collection of illegal fireworks confiscated from people last year and firefighters expect to collect more this year. They will be destroyed after the holiday.
The legal fireworks discharging period begins June 28 at noon and ends July 5 at 11 p.m. On most days, they can be lit from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. On the Fourth of July, they can be discharged until midnight.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.