Planning on setting off a giant fireworks display to mark the fourth of July this year?
In certain parts of Oregon—with potentially more to come—your plans just went up in smoke.
The city of Portland on Tuesday announced an immediate ban on the use of personal fireworks this holiday, both legal and illegal ones, after three days of unprecedentedly high temperatures and the strong potential for wildfires.
Portland’s ban—like a newly issued one in Yreka, Calif., near the border with Southern Oregon, includes no end date. Clark County, Washington and most cities therein have also banned fireworks sales, but only through midnight on July 4, while Bend and the city of Tualatin’s bans are set to expire on July 9.
“We recognize that this decision will cause some hardship to some residents’ celebration plans as well as businesses and non-profit organizations that sell fireworks,” said Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien. “We empathize with all who are affected, but we must follow county codes. They are in place to protect the welfare and safety of Clark County residents.”
Many city-sponsored fireworks shows are also on hold for the second year in a row, in part due to the uncertainties and effects of coronavirus restrictions. The giant show at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was cancelled in February; the scaled-back Waterfront Blues Festival has moved to a socially distant venue at Zidell Yards and won’t include a fireworks show. In Estacada, the annual Timber Festival and accompanying fireworks show is also on ice this year.
If you absolutely must see a professional pyrotechnics display this year, your best bet is likely the Oregon Coast. North Coast towns that are closest to Portland, including Cannon Beach, Seaside and Manzanita, aren’t sponsoring municipal fireworks displays this year. But the show is on at Rockaway Beach, Pacific City, Lincoln City and Newport, among others.
Those who defy bans and set off their own fireworks are not just courting disaster in the form of sparking a potential wildfire, they could also face steep fines if caught. Portland won’t be patrolling for fireworks use, according to Portland Fire and Rescue chief Sara Boone, and residents are asked to keep 911 lines free for emergency calls—but lest you think you’re in the clear for your mega-boom displays, know that all fires that have a connection to fireworks will be put under immediate investigation, which can even result in a stint in jail.