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Fire official approves legal fireworks

Even with the dry conditions and continuing hot temperatures, fireworks will be allowed in Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village over the holiday weekend.

But Gresham Fire Chief Greg Matthews said that only applies to those fireworks legal to begin with.

“These things that fly through the air,” Matthews noted, such as Roman candles, “those are all illegal and are banned period.”

With a burn ban in place for Multnomah County, the discussion had been whether or not to ban all fireworks entirely, such as the prohibition put in place in Sandy and Estacada

“We have to consider the effect that’s going to have,” he said. “There’s a significant amount of nonprofit (groups) that have made a large investment. We want to make sure whatever we do is for safety.”

If a ban on legal fireworks was instituted, Matthews said fire calls would increase significantly, but that doesn’t mean illegal fireworks — which are much more dangerous — would remain unlighted.

“It comes to individual responsibly; (an) opportunity to educate the public yet again on personal responsibility and to account for their personal safety and the safety of others,” he said.

The discussion at the fire department has been whether or not extra staff will be needed for the Fourth of July.

“I’m leaning heavily on yes,” Matthews said. “Just so we can cover our territory because of the concern of the heat.”

The concern lies not just with mid-90s temperature predictions on the Fourth of July, but the high-heat days back-to-back for the past week, which has really increased the risk for bush and structure fires.

“If it was a simple decision, it would be easy to say not this time of year, but it’s more complicated than that,” Matthews said. “We expect people will be lighting fireworks, we hope they’re legal, but we’d be foolish to believe everybody is following the law this time of year.”

Other cities have banned even legal fireworks — Sandy and Estacada — but Matthews said they hope people will keep safety in mind.

“We’re just hoping people will take the step of safety and precaution to being responsible with the legal fireworks,” he said.

As for the illegal fireworks, that are either modified or brought in from Washington, Matthews reminds residents that they are still illegal.


KSword@theoutlookonline.com

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