This could be the last year you can set off fireworks in Blaine

Blaine is considering limiting or banning personal fireworks use because of trash, safety and wildlife concerns.
Blaine is considering limiting or banning personal fireworks use because of trash, safety and wildlife concerns. cpride@losbanosenterprise.com

This could be the last year for people to set off fireworks in Blaine to celebrate the Fourth of July because the City Council is considering restrictions that could include a citywide ban.

People can weigh in during a public hearing Monday, June 13, before the council makes its decision.

If approved by the council, changes would begin in 2017.

Here are the options before the council:

▪ Limiting when people can light off fireworks, from noon to midnight on July 4 and noon to 11 p.m. on July 5.

▪ A partial ban on fireworks that would cover west Blaine, including Semiahmoo Spit, city parks and Port of Bellingham property.

▪ A complete ban on fireworks in Blaine.

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

Individuals at Semiahmoo Resort would be allowed to continue lighting off fireworks, provided its requests were approved by the city and North Whatcom Fire District.

The council took up the issue initially 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.

Since then, other home associations and individuals also have asked the council for some sort of restriction.

At a special council meeting June 6, they told the council they worried about people partying on the spit and littering, and were concerned about people being injured and fires being sparked by lit fireworks.

“To a person, every one of those people supported some level of ban on fireworks,” said Dave Wilbrecht, Blaine city manager.

“I think the council will do something,” Wilbrecht said, adding that could, at the very least, mean a fireworks ban on the Semiahmoo Spit.

Among those who spoke was Victoria Souze, a Lummi Island resident with the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which responds to calls about marine mammals that are hurt or dead.

She said the Semiahmoo Spit was a “major pupping beach,” where harbor seal mothers give birth and leave their young when they go off to forage for food.

“For a wildlife rescuer or rehaber, Fourth of July weekend is a nightmare,” Souze said, noting the mothers will abandon their pups because of human activity and interaction.

Last year, they responded to calls about four seal pups over the Fourth of July. Two died and two were sent to rehabilitation.

She asked for a fireworks ban on Semiahmoo beaches.

If the council puts 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

Fireworks restrictions

What: A public hearing as the City Council considers restricting personal fireworks in Blaine, including the possibility of a citywide ban.

When: 6 p.m. Monday, June 13.

Where: City Council Chambers, 435 Martin St., Suite 4000, in Blaine.

Give your opinion: People can speak at the hearing or submit comments in writing. The deadline for written comment, if not done at the hearing, is 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 13.

Send written comments or questions to Sheri Sanchez, administrative services director, at 435 Martin St., Suite 3000, Blaine, WA 98230, or to ssanchez@cityofblaine.com.

Details: ci.blaine.wa.us.