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Safe 4th: Fireworks rules of engagement

Conditions are dry and getting drier, and local fire officials are girding for action over the July 4 weekend.

With that reality facing the Gorge, Capt. Clayton McRea of Hood River Fire Department provided these basics for safe fireworks engagement:

  • Limit your fireworks purchases to legal ones purchased in Oregon;
  • Make sure you set them off on a flat, bare surface and have water at hand;
  • Above all, McRea said, “use common sense when lighting them.”

As temperatures stay in the 80s and 90s, of key concern are the dry areas found particularly on the fringes of the city of Hood River: open spaces with tall and dry grass and other fuels that have gained in potential combustibility with the recent heat and low humidity.

To “try to get a quick jump on any fires,” McRea said, on July 4 firefighters will do limited patrols based out of brushy areas, such as the east end of Hood River, Seventh Street, and near the Waucoma Center on Wasco Avenue; Wy’east Fire District will stage along Highline and Highway 35.

Enforcement of illegal fireworks laws is up to police, not fire, and firefighters will not respond directly to complaints, though they will respond to fires — and to violations if they see or hear them. Such action could result in a penalty. However, 9-1-1- dispatch will not send firefighters to complaints; that will be up to short-handed law enforcement agencies.

All of this means fireworks are a kind of liberty and pursuit of happiness thing: It is up to each citizen to make sure they are going about their patriotic efforts in a safe manner.

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