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Blaine considering limit on personal fireworks on Semiahmoo Spit

Carlos Castaneda Jr., 12, helps stock the fireworks stand owned by his family June 23, 2014, on Haxton Way on the Lummi Reservation. Blaine is considering limiting fireworks in parts of the city.
Carlos Castaneda Jr., 12, helps stock the fireworks stand owned by his family June 23, 2014, on Haxton Way on the Lummi Reservation. Blaine is considering limiting fireworks in parts of the city. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

The City Council could restrict personal fireworks on Semiahmoo Spit, which has long been a favorite place for people to light them off on the Fourth of July.

“That’s a very popular location,” said Dave Wilbrecht, Blaine city manager.

After a study session on April 25, the council decided to consider a proposal that would prohibit people from setting off fireworks on the spit as well as Blaine Marina/Blaine Harbor — all of which could be designated as fireworks risk areas — unless they first get a permit from the city.

Fireworks risk areas are those with higher fire risk because of a concentration of flammable substances. Semiahmoo is wooded and grassy, while industrial and marine products at the marina/harbor pose a risk to those areas, according to a draft of the proposed ordinance.

Other parts of the city wouldn’t be affected by the proposed restrictions, should the City Council approve the proposal. The matter will go before the council in May.

The partial ban could begin in 2017, or sooner if the council wants to do it on a temporary or seasonal basis.

It’s being considered at the request of the Semiahmoo Resort Association, whose president said large groups of people gathered in public areas on the spit last Fourth of July to shoot off a lot of fireworks and to party — leaving trash behind when they left.

“It was a horrendous mess, numerous beer bottles and trash. I think, more importantly, there was a danger there. The crowd was pretty much in a party mood and out of control,” John Binns Jr., the association’s president, said in an interview.

Semiahmoo, which is near the spit, has banned fireworks in its gated community. The spit also is home to Semiahmoo Resort and Spa and the private Semiahmoo Marina.

Wilbrecht said the city is just starting to look at the possible fireworks restriction and still must hold a public hearing on the issue. Also of question is whether the fireworks restriction would apply only for the Fourth of July.

Blaine puts on a public fireworks display on the Fourth. That event wouldn’t be affected by what the city is considering.

If the council does put the restrictions into place, it would be following steps taken by the cities of Ferndale and Bellingham in recent years. Bellingham has banned 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, people may set off fireworks in Ferndale only on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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