Portland Fire & Rescue has issued an immediate ban on the use of all fireworks, joining a growing number of cities across the Pacific Northwest where you won’t even be allowed to light certain sparklers this Fourth of July due to the tinder-dry conditions.
The prohibition comes just one day after the metro area saw a series of record-busting temperatures—including a new high of 116 degrees in Portland—following an unusually arid spring. Those factors are what led Fire Chief Sara Boone, along with City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the fire bureau, to halt curbside pyrotechnics just ahead of the holiday weekend.
“If we don’t take this proactive step now, I fear the consequences could be devastating,” Boone stated in a press release. “It is not easy to make a decision like this so close to our national holiday but as fire chief, I feel I have a higher responsibility to sometimes make unpopular decisions during unprecedented times to protect life, property and the environment.”
In case the ban had you considering hopping the state line to set off explosives in Washington—where Oregonians have traditionally sourced their bottle rockets, mortars and other fireworks that shoot more than a foot into the air and are illegal here—that loophole is now closed.
Today, Clark County outlawed the use and sale of all fireworks through midnight July 4, when they are traditionally prohibited. That means everything from the parking lot tents selling fountains as fundraisers to the sprawling warehouse-style retailers lining I-5 are effectively closed.
Clark County’s fire marshal and council chair also cited the extreme fire danger as reason for the decision.
“We recognize that this decision will cause some hardship to some residents’ celebration plans as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations that sell fireworks,” said County Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien. “We empathize with all who are affected, but we must follow county codes. They are in place to protect the welfare and safety of Clark County residents.”
Several other Southwest Washington cities, including Battle Ground, Camas, Ridgefield and Washougal, had already banned fireworks displays this year, though not all halted sales. And on Monday, Bend did the same while declaring a state of emergency due to the soaring temperatures. In Vancouver, the use and sale of consumer fireworks has been a crime since 2016.
Despite the new ban, Portland Fire & Rescue stresses that individuals should not call 911 every time they spot streamers of colorful sparks this week. It’s important to keep the line open for reports of active fires and medical emergencies, bureau officials say.
However, fire investigators will be out on patrol and examine any blazes that are suspected to originate from the use of fireworks.