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Fire district seeks to ban fireworks across Snohomish County

EVERETT, Wash. – You’ve probably seen fireworks stands popping up near your neighborhood since the Fourth of July is around the corner.

Now a fire district is asking Snohomish County lawmakers to ban fireworks entirely, saying they repeatedly cause too many injuries and damage property.

Many Washington communities outlaw fireworks, check here to see if your area is impacted by a ban.

The city of Mill Creek also has a ban on selling and lighting off fireworks, but many stands sit outside the city limits like one at Gold Creek Community Church.

The owner of the stand told Q13 News that he operates more than a dozen more, and he worries if the county imposes a ban, churches could lose out on a lucrative way to raise funds.

“We don’t need to make more laws,” Pastor Brad Sebranke told Snohomish County Council members during a work session on Monday.

“I'm a pastor of a church, we have a whole bunch of fireworks stands, we make a whole bunch of money for youth groups,” he said.

Sebranke made his comments during the work session because officials from Snohomish County Fire District 1 asked council members to ban the sale and use of fireworks across unincorporated areas.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” said Fire District 1 Board Chairman Jim McGaughey. “They’re not using the small stuff, they’re going to the reservations and getting big stuff.”

The fire district has made the same request for the past 10 years but lawmakers haven’t budged.

Instead, an ordinance adopted in 2016 gave homeowners the option to gather signatures to ban fireworks in their own neighborhoods. So far, zero petitions have been turned into the council.

Fire district officials insist a ban is more effective in reducing injuries and property damage – and point to Mountlake Terrace’s recent ban as proof.

“Total call volume went down significantly, the amount of injuries were reduced and there were basically no major fires,” said McGaughey.

More than $3 million in property was destroyed or damaged by fireworks since 2005 in unincorporated areas of Snohomish County, according to the fire district.

Two years ago, an Everett boy severely injured his hand by doing something many of us likely have done ourselves.

“He was just holding the roman candle,” said his sister, Raegan Tregoning.

But Sebranke believes legal fireworks can be safe if used responsibly. He worries a countywide ban would hurt many local churches' attempts to raise funds for youth groups and international missions.

“All those guys have bigger fish to fry on the Fourth of July,” he said. “There’s enough inebriation, fights, there’s enough things that have nothing to do with fireworks. Fireworks is not the problem.”

The proposed ban would only outlaw private fireworks but wouldn’t impact professional shows.

The county fire marshal retains the power to suspend all sales and discharge of fireworks in the county during incidents of drought.