Familiar debate rekindles: Should Bend ban fireworks?

Issue simmers as dry conditions stoke wildfire fears

Should Bend ban fireworks?

BEND, Ore. - Fireworks have been a big part of our tradition since the first Independence Day, but what if they pose too much danger?

It's not a new debate, but a dry spring has added fuel to the fire.

Last year, there were nearly 200 fireworks-related fires in Oregon, and with the Fourth of July just days away, some folks we talked to on Tuesday wondered whether a ban would even make a difference.

"From past experience, I've seen that you can ban something, but people are going to find a way," Nolan Howell said.

"I'm not against banning them completely though," Don Thompson said.

"It can be dangerous, but I think the benefits outweigh the bad," Solomon Helms said.

Deputy fire marshal Susie Maniscalco said the bad might be prevented by a ban, but also says it's something that may not be possible.

"Fireworks are one of the causes of fires, and not having fireworks obviously would cut back on the types of fires that we see," Maniscalco said.

One tourist NewsChannel 21 spoke with said in his hometown of Richland, Wash., they ban fireworks, but that hasn't stopped people from partaking in the festivities.

"At nighttime, there's more fireworks going off around town than where it's controlled," Thompson said.

The debate is mainly centered around tradition, and if we should end something that to many has become synonymous with Independence Day.

"I think it's fun, and it's a tradition that's been around for a while, and people enjoy it, obviously," Helms said.

Fire hazards aren't the only things that bother Thompson when it comes to the Fourth of July.

"What happens afterwards is they don't clean up after themselves either. It's a mess afterwards and it creates a problem," he said.

Howell owns a fireworks stand and is a former firefighter who is aware of the risks, but not at the expense of tradition.

"I definitely understand the danger of it, and having to deal with the danger of it many times," he said. "But at the same time, I appreciate the fact that we can sell them here in Bend, Oregon."

A few years ago, city councilors came close to banning the use of fireworks, but City Manager Eric King told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday it's something the city doesn't intend to take up again any time soon.

What do you think - should personal-use fireworks be banned? It's also the topic of our latest KTVZ.COM Poll

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