Bend Bans Sale, Possession And Use Of Fireworks

BEND, Ore. (AP) — The Bend City Council has unanimously approved a ban on the sale, possession and use of all fireworks in an attempt to reduce wildfire risk amid climate change.

The council voted on Wednesday for the ban despite a late effort from opponents including churches and charities that sell fireworks to raise money, The Bulletin reported.

Mayor Sally Russell in backing the ban referenced a major 2017 wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge that was started by a teen throwing lit fireworks into a canyon during a burn ban.

The new ordinance will take effect in November and violators can be fined up to $750, according to city attorney Ian Leitheiser. Public, permitted displays will still be allowed.

The city council had temporarily banned legal fireworks the week before the July 4 holiday in response to a historic heatwave and drought conditions. In response to significant community feedback, the council later began considering a permanent ban.

A coalition of churches and charities formed last-minute against the ban, under the leadership of James Fuller, who said he is a fire safety expert representing a fireworks company.

Fuller argued the ban would be ineffective, because it would push fireworks sellers outside city limits.

Emergency calls related to fireworks dropped during this summer's temporary fireworks ban, according to Trish Connolly, a battalion chief with Bend Fire & Rescue.