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Sequim pops into independence
Retail fireworks go on sale this week through July 5 for Independence Day.
Roger Moeder, assistant chief/fire marshal for Clallam County Fire District 3, said that 2010 was the first year in a long time there were no fires or injuries related to fireworks locally.
The Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office reports there were 576 fireworks-related incidents last year in Washington with more than$2.1 million in property loss and 162 injuries — 50 of those to people under age 14.
Moeder said weather conditions this year are better than in the past for preventing potential fireworks-related fires but conditions are drying out, with a forecast for dry and sunny weekend conditions in Sequim.
The nearest public fireworks displays are in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
Fireworks and the law
Approved commercial fireworks can be used in Clallam County (except on tribal property) at the following times:
• 9 a.m.-11 p.m. June 29-July 3
• 9 a.m.-midnight July 4
• 9 a.m.-11 p.m. July 5
Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson said enforcement could be difficult because there are so many fireworks deployed in the area. He said probable attention-getters are possible fire hazards and displays that are disturbing the peace later than restricted times.
“During the day or on the Fourth of July, we’re for the most part not going to intercede unless they are creating a hazard for someone,” Dickinson said.
Fireworks sold on tribal lands are not subject to local and state laws and are not legal in Clallam County or within the City of Sequim’s limits unless they are marked “Consumer Fireworks UN0336.” Using illegal fireworks, including firecrackers and rockets, is a misdemeanor that could result in $250-$1,000 in fines and/or jail time.
Preston Smith, senior commander for Sequim Royal Rangers, said anything sold through the rangers’ and other stands inside city limits is legal.
He said all of their fireworks are labeled “Consumer Fireworks UN0336.” Fireworks such as small artillery shells and Roman candles have the label and are legal, but large artillery shells are illegal without the label.
Fireworks of legal use also must read “WARNING” or “CAUTION”; describe what will happen, such as “SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS” or “EMITS SHOWERS OR SPARKS”; and instruct consumers how to handle and store the device.
Smith said a misconception is that aerial fireworks are less safe when it’s dry than ground-based fireworks.
“Aerials are designed to combat wind going straight up and burn out before hitting the ground,” he said.
Suzy Zustiak, the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society’s on-staff veterinarian, said fireworks often are very frightening for pets. “Perhaps the easiest thing to do if you have a dog or cat you know is afraid of fireworks — or if you don’t know if they’re afraid — is to just keep them in the house,” she said.
“And distract them,” she added. “Turn on the TV or radio and turn it up.”
She said even if they’re tied up outside or in a secure yard, pets can in their panic sometimes find a way out.
Zustiak said it might even be necessary to sedate a pet, “just to get them through the night. “
“If you have to, you can get (sedatives) at your vet clinic,” she said.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.