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Ask a firefighter: "With the Fourth of July coming up, what kinds of emergencies have you seen in the past?"

ZOUTENDIJK(A Lake Oswego police officer answers readers’ questions each week in this space. To submit a question, call staff reporter Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Every year around the Fourth of July we see an increase in injuries and damages due to fireworks. In previous years, we have had a variety of calls including multiple major house fires caused by illegal fireworks. All of these fires were caused by fireworks that either flew in the air and landing on a roof or traveled more than six feet against a structure.

Each year, we see a lot of bark dust and vegetation fires like shrubs and bushes. Injuries from fireworks are not uncommon either. We have had injuries as severe as someone losing some parts of his hand to minor burn injuries.

Oregon law bans possession, use or sale of fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than six feet on the ground or 12 inches into the air. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman Candles and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon.

There were 227 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon during 2015, resulting in 28 injuries and more than $423,000 in property damage. Officials may seize illegal fireworks and fine offenders up to $500 per violation. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children.

Both Lake Oswego Police and Fire Departments will be patrolling the city this year to enforce the use of illegal fireworks and try to keep the Independence Day a safe holiday for all.

— Lake Oswego Fire Marshal Gert Zoutendijk

If you have a specific request or see a fireworks violation occur, the Lake Oswego Police Department encourages all citizens to contact the non-emergency line at 503-635-0238 and an officer will be dispatched as soon as available. For questions about fire safety, call the fire department’s office at 503-635-0275.