Fines, jail time possible penalties for violations
by: Garth Guibord, You can purchase legal fireworks from Sally Morrisson at this stand outside the Sandy Hi-School Pharmacy (or at many other places around town), or you can risk getting a hefty fine or even jail time by purchasing illegal fireworks.

If you're planning to stage a Fourth of July celebration with illegal fireworks this year, you'd better think twice.

That's the message that the Sandy police and fire departments are sending out after receiving numerous complaints during last year's holiday.

'As complaints come in, we're going to be more focused on those individual houses or neighborhoods and finding the people responsible for (the fireworks),' said Sgt. Shawn Burns of the Sandy Police Department.

Instead of using illegal fireworks, city officials encourage people to attend the city's fireworks display, to be held at 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, from the Sandy High School football field.

'It seems to the City Council there's not much excuse to set them off when the city has one of their own with huge mortars,' City Manager Scott Lazenby said. 'I think it's gotten to the point where there's so much (illegal fireworks) that they push the envelope a little bit.'

Illegal fireworks include anything that explodes, ejects balls of fire, flies in to the air, or travels more than 6 feet on the ground or 12 inches in the air. Legal fireworks in Oregon include base fountains, cone fountains, sparklers, wheels and ground bloom flowers. Some people may be tempted to purchase legal fireworks and try and make them more powerful, but the practice could be costly.

'A problem is people getting legal fireworks and altering them,' said Phil Schneider, Sandy deputy fire chief. 'That could be a felony.'

Sally Morrison, who runs the fireworks booth in the parking lot by Hi School Pharmacy, couldn't agree more.

'Use them as they're intended to be, because once you start altering them, that's when people get hurt,' Morrison said. 'We want people to have fun, but we want them to be safe.'

Morrison, who works at an insurance company during the year, started selling fireworks in Sandy 20 years ago. She noted that the legal fireworks today are much improved over what was offered in the past.

'The funny thing is, years ago, people seem to forget that all you could get was smoke - 100 different ways to smoke,' Morrison said. 'They've really opened up Oregon to have a lot of the fountains.'

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