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Everson shrinks window for fireworks over fire concerns

Meo Carrillo, 4, helps his mom, Susan Julius set up the Pyro-Maniac fireworks stand on Haxton Way on the Lummi Reservation on, June 25, 2010.
Meo Carrillo, 4, helps his mom, Susan Julius set up the Pyro-Maniac fireworks stand on Haxton Way on the Lummi Reservation on, June 25, 2010. The Bellingham Herald

With temperatures on the rise for the Fourth of July weekend and still no rain in sight, Everson officials recently decided to reduce the hours fireworks will be allowed this year.

“We decided because of the unusually dry weather that this would be safer,” said Jennifer Bell, city clerk and treasurer.

Usually, Everson follows state law by allowing fireworks June 28-July 5. Everson officials decided on Tuesday, June 23, to limit fireworks this summer to the following times:

July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight.

July 5: 9 a.m. to ll p.m.

Discussion also was underway in the city of Nooksack, but no changes have been made so far.

No other Whatcom County jurisdictions have yet modified fireworks schedules for this year’s holiday.

Fire Inspector Mitch Nolze said the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office will not be enacting any bans on fireworks before July 4 for unincorporated areas of the county.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” he said. “But this late in the game, it’d be pretty hard to get (bans) through.”

Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack, Sumas and unincorporated Whatcom County all follow the state-regulated fireworks schedule:

June 28: noon to 11 p.m.

June 29-July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight

July 5: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Lynden allows fireworks only until 9 p.m. that night.)

Blaine has a slightly stricter schedule that starts on Canada Day:

July 1-July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight

July 5: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Bellingham is in its second year of a ban on all personal fireworks. Only the major waterfront display on July 4, fireworks at Bellingham Bells games, or other professional displays with a permit are allowed in city limits.

Starting in 2016, Ferndale will be enforcing regulations passed in September 2014 that will restrict fireworks use to Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

Next year, unincorporated Whatcom County will be reducing fireworks to the evenings of July 3, 4 and 5, and to New Year’s Eve, following a unanimous vote by the County Council on Tuesday, June 23.

With moisture levels already well below normal, fire departments have been particularly vigilant spreading information about fire safety. Making sure people know which fireworks are legal and illegal has been a big concern, Nolze said.

Items such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, fireworks or missile-type rockets with fins, and mortar shells larger than 1 3/4 inches in diameter can be purchased from some reservation fireworks stands but are illegal in the rest of the county.

Explosives such as M-80s, M-100s, tennis ball bombs, and pipe bombs are illegal everywhere, and modification of legal fireworks is illegal as well.

Newer to the list of banned items are sky lanterns. While they are not classified as fireworks, the uncontrollable open flames on the lanterns are considered a violation of state and county fire codes, according to a notice from the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Legal fireworks can be purchased from stands throughout unincorporated Whatcom County, as they are state-licensed and have been approved by the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Libby Keller can be reached at 360-715-2242 or libby.keller@bellinghamherald.com.

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