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Illegal fireworks carry big fine, large risk this year

Early-summer dry temps cause fire officials worry as July 4 holiday approaches


NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Forest Grove Fire & Rescue would like residents to come pick up these free signs and stick them in their front lawns. Or call and a FGF&R representative will deliver one to you.With the Fourth of July holiday fast approaching, the Forest Grove Police and Fire departments want to remind residents that playing with illegal fireworks simply isn’t worth the risk.

Forest Grove Fire & Rescue is asking residents to put up signs in their yards that promote awareness about the city’s firework ordinance.

“People can get a sign by stopping by the fire station, or calling us and we will bring one out,” FGF&R Public Information Officer Dave Nemeyer said in an email.

While the fine for discharging an illegal firework within the city limits is $1,000 on its own, the penalties for altering or modifying a firework to explode are significantly worse.

Along with being a class C felony, “manufacturing a destructive device” also places the maker at risk of severe personal injury. Forest Grove Police Sgt. Mike Hall, for example, described how a Washington County man blew his hand into three pieces when a bottle rocket with a 2-inch mortar detonated prematurely in 2013. He also noted that 142 firework-related injuries were reported countywide from 2009 to 2013.

This year, with the high early-summer temperatures, fire also becomes a serious danger associated with fireworks.

“Using [fireworks] in a safe place, away from anything that can burn, is key — but so is disposing them properly,” Nemeyer said. “People really need to hose them down and then soak them in a bucket of water overnight before they put them in the trash.”

To see how fast a single small firework can ignite and then burn a patch of dry grass, go to the Forest Grove Fire & Rescue Facebook page and scroll down to the relevant video.

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