With mostly dry conditions in Western Washington this week, a potentially bad wildfire season ahead and hundreds of injuries from fireworks in the state each year, officials have a simple message: Leave fireworks to the pros this Fourth of July.
In many cities, you don’t have a choice (unless you want to face fines, which in Seattle can reach $5,000). Fireworks are banned in most cities in King and Snohomish counties, including Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way and Seattle.
In cities that allow fireworks, state law permits sales and discharge until the night of July 5, although some cities have set their own time limits. In King County jurisdictions that allow fireworks, sales and legal discharge end July 4.
To see the laws in your city, visit Washington State Patrol’s website on fireworks at www.wsp.wa.gov/fireworks/.
Altering fireworks and creating homemade explosives are criminal offenses throughout the state. Some fireworks, including bottle rockets, firecrackers, sky rockets and missiles are legal to buy, sell or set off only on tribal lands. Violations of state fireworks law can result in fines up to $1,000 per violation.
With dry, warm weather forecast for the holiday and conditions ripe for a bad wildfire season in Western Washington, officials are concerned about the risk of fire. A stage-one burn ban was declared Monday for unincorporated King County. Fireworks can still be discharged under the ban if allowed by jurisdictions in King County, but officials recommend attending one of the 23 planned fireworks shows in the county instead.
Under the burn ban, outdoor burning is prohibited, except for recreational fires in approved devices and locations, and recreational fires must be in a designated fire pit using only charcoal or dry firewood. In addition, all burning permits are suspended.
Another reason to leave fireworks up to the pros: There were 209 reports of injuries and 92 reports of fires from fireworks last year, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Most occurred on the Fourth of July, and about 90 of the injuries were caused by holding lit fireworks.
If you do set off fireworks, the fire marshal’s office recommends having water nearby and keeping pets indoors. Only adults should light fireworks, which should not be ignited while in someone’s hand or used indoors. Only one should be lighted at a time. Fireworks debris should be cleaned up, and used fireworks should be soaked in water.
Don’t call 911 if you witness fireworks being set off in a city where it’s not allowed, according to the Washington State Patrol. Instead, call your local police department’s non-emergency number. For Seattle Police Department, that is 206-625-5011. Bellevue residents can report fireworks online or through an app.
It’s appropriate to call 911 to report a fireworks-related injury or fire. Washington State Patrol said people can also call 911 to report homemade fireworks and if they come across explosives.
Last year, the Seattle Police Department’s bomb squad responded to Lake Union after a group of volunteers cleaning the lake after the Fourth found an unexploded mortar the size of a soccer ball among the 553 pounds of trash they collected.