With fire season looming, fireworks banned in unincorporated King County
Jun 30, 2023, 5:02 AM | Updated: 9:04 am
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
King County has officially declared fireworks will be prohibited again this year in the unincorporated areas of the county. Officials are already preparing the enforce the rule, which could lead to significant citations for violators.
Last year was the first time the county issued a fireworks ban, and while officials mostly offered educational tools instead of fines last year, citations are expected for those who continue to violate the mandate.
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“King County’s goal during the ban’s first year was to educate fireworks users about the ban,” the county wrote in a press release. “In many cases, potential violators received letters informing them that continued violations could result in citations.”
Unincorporated areas of King County include White Center, Skyway, East Federal Way, Fairwood, and the East Renton area.
While specific cities and counties throughout Washington have mandates against the use of fireworks, the state itself has lenient regulations. 29 states, Washington included, allow a majority of consumer fireworks. Massachusetts is the only state in the U.S. to ban fireworks altogether.
Tangentially, the Portland City Council passed an ordinance in March 2022 that permanently banned the sale and use of all consumer fireworks within city limits. The penalties for lighting off illegal fireworks in banned areas within Oregon range from fines costing as much as $2,500 or even misdemeanor charges.
For those residing in unincorporated King County and want to get away for some 4th of July festivities, Kootenai County Sheriff Robert Norris released a statement that Washington residents planning to visit Idaho during the holiday weekend need to stay in line and follow state laws.
“If one chooses to possess controlled substances or engage in any criminal behavior, Seattle, Spokane, and the entire state of Washington is a wonderful place to enjoy July Fourth celebrations,” the sheriff stated in the press release.
Firework bans a response to fire season
With warmer and drier weather enveloping the Pacific Northwest, firework restrictions and bans went into effect last month for all Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands throughout Oregon and Washington in order to combat “wildfire season.”
“Although we had a wet winter, we must still be careful with activities that can cause a spark to keep our first responders, local communities, and public lands safe from accidental wildfires,” said Anita Bilbao, BLM Oregon/Washington Associate State Director, in a prepared statement. “We are seeing more invasive grass due to the wet weather, which dries out quickly without rain. Everyone can help by following fire restrictions and practicing fire safety while out on public lands.”
Humans cause an estimated 87% of wildfires nationally, according to BLM.
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Those who violate the prohibition can be fined up to $100,000 and/or receive a prison term of up to one year, according to BLM, while those found responsible for starting wildland fires on federal lands could be billed for the cost of both fire suppression and the costs of damages.