Fire officials urge caution as Oregon fireworks sales start Thursday

Sparklers and fireworks on sale in Salem (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Salem residents can start prepping for Fourth of July when fireworks sales begin Thursday.

Retail fireworks can be sold through July 6 in Oregon, according to the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal.

The use or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground without a permit issued by the fire marshal’s office is banned under state law.

Fireworks known as bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon without a permit.

“Officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damages. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children,” the agency said in the news release.

The city of Salem does not allow firework use in city parks, but otherwise has no additional restrictions in place.

Kyle McMann, fire chief for Marion County Fire District No. 1., said his district has not set any fireworks restrictions beyond the state rules.

Polk County Fire District No. 1 also has not issued any additional fireworks restrictions, said Fire Chief Ben Stange.

Portland Fire and Rescue on Tuesday announced the city had banned the use of fireworks “due to drought conditions and the annual fires, injuries and deaths associated with the use of fireworks.”

“Every year, we see fires started because of improper use or use of illegal fireworks. Our message is to keep it legal and keep it safe as people celebrate the holiday,” said Mark Johnston, assistant chief deputy for the fire marshal’s office, in a news release.

Fireworks can only be bought from permitted retailers and stands. The state fire marshal’s office’s website lists about 30 permitted fireworks retailers in Salem.

Anyone planning to visit public lands and parks should leave all fireworks at home, and possessing or using fireworks are banned in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management Lands, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service properties, state beaches, state parks and campgrounds, the agency said.

Using fireworks is also banned on many private lands protected by the state Department of Forestry.

Residents using fireworks should keep a garden hose or bucket of water available and keep children and pets away when lighting them, the agency said.

Fireworks should never be used near dry grass or vegetation. Duds should never be re-lit – wait 15 to 20 minutes before soaking them in a bucket of water and then disposing of them.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian