The city of Bend is immediately banning the use of all fireworks, legal and illegal, in response to extremely high temperatures and drought conditions.
“The decision was pretty clear that this was an extreme safety concern from multiple angles,” Mayor Pro-tem Gena Goodman-Campbell said Monday.
Not overwhelming first responders, who already are busy the week of the Fourth of July in more normal years, was also a consideration.
“For people calling in with an emergency, we want to make sure we can respond to those in a timely manner,” Goodman-Campbell said.
The local state of emergency declaration issued Monday by the city manager also allows the city to use resources to provide services such as cooling shelters to people experiencing homelessness during the heatwave.
The emergency declaration remains in effect through July 9. The ban does not make it illegal to sell fireworks, or to own them, Goodman-Campbell said.
Professional shows at the Vince Genna Stadium on July 3 and at Pilot Butte on July 4 will go on as scheduled.
The emergency order is subject to ratification by the Bend City Council on July 21.
The Deschutes County Commission also discussed a possible ban on fireworks for people in the rural parts of the county on Monday, but declined to do so. The county did issue public use restrictions that bar fireworks and other activities that could spark fires on county property and lands that are not part of a rural fire protection district or protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Commissioner Tony DeBone said he wasn’t in favor of a ban, saying he preferred to rely on personal responsibility.
“The folks who are going to do it are still going to do it,” DeBone said.
Commissioner Phil Chang said he could see both sides of the issue, but ultimately was reluctant to initiate a ban.
“As someone who feels they do practice common sense, and who has gotten a lot of enjoyment out of fireworks … I’m not super excited about considering banning them,” Chang said Monday.
Goodman-Campbell said that if people choose to go outside of the city to use fireworks, they are showing a disregard for the safety of the community.
“I believe that the vast majority of people in Bend genuinely care about the safety and lives of our neighbors and they need to show that care by not lighting off fireworks,” she said.
In its declaration Monday, the city noted that fireworks sparked a fire at Stover Park in northeast Bend on Friday. Bend Fire & Rescue prevented the fire from spreading beyond the park. But fireworks remain a fire risk in a community in deep drought conditions. Fireworks cause more than 19,000 fires a year in the U.S., according to the city.
Under the emergency order, use of any fireworks carries a fine up to $750, according to the city.
Residents can report the use of fireworks via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the fireworks are posing an immediate safety risk to a person or property, residents are asked to call 911.