Fireworks sales will start Thursday in much of the state, but the state fire marshal says Washingtonians are already being injured by fireworks.
Two days before the start of seasonal fireworks sales in Washington, the state fire marshal and other officials Tuesday issued an annual safety reminder: Be careful. Follow the directions on the packaging. Keep a hose handy. Don’t blow your fingers off.
Fireworks cause about 200 injuries a day nationwide in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July, Craig Mabie, a compliance investigator with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, said at a news conference in Renton.
Washingtonians suffered 212 fireworks-related injuries in 2011, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and 264 fires broke out.
“Every year we have hundreds of fires in the state of Washington that are caused by fireworks,” State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy said.
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This season’s casualties have already started.
At least two people in Western Washington have been injured in recent weeks when fireworks exploded in their hands, said Daniel E. Johnson, the chief deputy state fire marshal, including a young boy on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation.
Fireworks sales in Washington start at noon Thursday and run through July 5, but each of the state’s counties, cities and towns are free to set their own hours for sales or to ban them entirely.
On Bainbridge Island, for instance, fireworks don’t go on sale until July 1 and can be set off only between 5 and 11 p.m. July 4.
Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and scores of other cities in the state ban fireworks altogether.
Indian reservations aren’t bound by the state’s laws regulating fireworks, and they can sell fireworks whenever they like. They also can sell varieties illegal in the rest of the state, such as bottle rockets, firecrackers and missiles. But those fireworks can only be legally used on the reservation.
The variety of rules and regulations create something of a patchwork system.
“It’s chaos,” Jerry Farley, a lobbyist for the fireworks industry, said Tuesday. “We’d be better off with a single statewide standard that could be enforced everywhere.”
Cheryl D. Bishop, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that watching public fireworks displays might be a better idea than setting them off. “We encourage people to watch the show — don’t be the show,” she said.
But fireworks fans might not have the best weather this Fourth of July. Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, wrote in an email that July 4 would likely be cool and cloudy, with a 30 to 50 percent chance of rain.
A number of larger fireworks are actually illegal explosive devices, Bishop said.
At a demonstration after the news conference, troopers with the State Patrol’s bomb squad detonated six of the illegal devices.
The explosions led to one casualty — a mannequin in a navy T-shirt and cargo shorts that was blown into shards.
Theodoric Meyer: 206-464-2168 or email@example.com. Twitter: @theodoricmeyer.