RIDGEFIELD, Wash —
Fireworks stands in Clark County started sales on Monday, amid dangerous fire conditions and record-setting heat just days before Independence Day.
Fireworks will be allowed in much of the county for the Fourth of July holiday. Vancouver, Camas and Washougal are among the cities that have banned fireworks.
Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue Fire Chief John Nohr said he wishes they weren't allowed. Nohr represents all Clark County fire chiefs in strongly discouraging the use of fireworks by anyone this Fourth of July.
“We want people to enjoy their family and friends, we want people to do it safely," said Nohr. "I want to see fireworks banned this year, it's just too dangerous out there; some people are going to have the opportunity to use fireworks out there, if they do they must use the utmost caution and do it safely."
Nohr's district includes northwest unincorporated Clark County, as well as a couple of cities that have banned fireworks. Both Ridgefield and La Center have banned fireworks because of the extreme weather conditions.
At the TNT Fireworks Warehouse in Hazel Dell, General Manager Beau Leach knows fire conditions are awful right now.
“But you're breaking the law if you light today so that's what my stance is: I'll sell it today but that doesn't mean you need to light it today; we want you to wait until the Fourth of July and then I think we can all enjoy it safely,” said Leach.
It is hard to stop the excitement for some fireworks shoppers, even in the heat. Customer Renee Vetter says she will be careful on July 4th.
“So if it's gonna be windy and super hot, we certainly would not shoot them off, we really practice [safety] ourselves, I don't like to be told I can't have them because it's an American tradition, it's summertime it's America,” said Vetter.
Chief Nohr said he has had plenty of support for stopping the fireworks. The Clark County Fire Marshal and the county's Council Chair could implement a county-wide, if they wanted to.
“It's running 3-1 [in favor of a fireworks ban]. I've had a few people who feel like I'm taking away their fun, I understand that, but these are unprecedented weather times,” said Nohr.
As long as the rules don't change, fireworks stands in Clark County will be open all week. However, it is important to remember that lighting fireworks is only legal on the Fourth of July.
KGW reached out to both the Clark County Fire Marshal Dan Young and County Chair Eileen Quiring to ask if they were considering a county-wide ban, but have not heard back from them as of Monday afternoon.