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You can now buy fireworks – but can you set them off?

State-wide fireworks sales started Friday, less than a week before the 4th of July.  While state law allows you to set off fireworks from 9AM-11PM from June 29th to July 3rd, 9AM-midnight on July 4th, and 9AM-9PM on July 5th, many cities and counties have chosen to create stricter rules.

Independence Day fireworks are banned throughout Chelan County, for example.  In Kittitas County, you can set off fireworks in unincorporated parts of the county on July 4th, but they’re banned within Cle Elum, Ellensburg, and Roslyn city limits.  And in Clark County, WSP’s official graphic shows the restrictions are even tighter: north of 219th Street, the county follows state fireworks restrictions, but south of 219th Street, you can only set off fireworks after 9:00 in the morning on July 4th.

So can you enjoy patriotic pyrotechnics, or can’t you?

The easy answer is: find a professional display, sit back, and celebrate.

If you want to set off fireworks of your own, your best bet to stay on the right side of the law may be to contact local government.  If you live in an unincorporated area, that’s the county – which frequently has different rules than both the state and the nearest city.  You can also contact police or the fire department, but do not call 911.  Questions about whether or not fireworks are legal in your neighborhood should be directed to the non-emergency phone number, which is different for every department.

So you’ve discovered fireworks are illegal in your neighborhood, and made plans to check out a professional display instead.  What about the neighbors who just won’t quit with the firecrackers?

Again, as frustrating as it may be, State Patrol says you should not call 911 to report people using regular fireworks.  You should only call 911 if someone is setting off illegal explosives like M-80s; if someone is injured; or if you see a fire.

A burn ban doesn’t necessarily stop you from using fireworks.  In Pierce County, for example, a burn ban takes effect July 1st – but fireworks are still legal on private property from 10:00AM-11:00PM July 1-3 and 10:00AM – midnight on July 4th.

No matter where you’re celebrating, you need to put safety first.  Hundreds of people go to the emergency room every year with firework-related injuries; everything from severely burned fingers to missing limbs.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission says you should never try to re-light a firework that fails to detonate.  Never point fireworks towards other people, and never let kids set them off.  Once the fun is over, be sure to put all the trash into a waterproof container and then cover it with water and leave it overnight.  That will stop the fireworks from re-igniting unexpectedly.

Speaking of fires – in our area, summer conditions quickly get so dry that a hot exhaust pipe can be enough to start a grass fire.  Don’t set off fireworks on grass or leaves – make sure you’re working on a non-flammable surface like concrete.

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