Cities banning fireworks across OR, CA; record temps, dry conditions put residents on edge

OREGON- Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, many cities in both northern California and Oregon are now banning the use of fireworks, including Portland.

With record high temperatures, drought conditions, and steady winds, some people are worried about seeing fires like we saw last September.

With the Lava Fire burning over 13,000 acres nearby putting a strain on fire fighting resources, Mt. Shasta Fire announced Monday that the city would prohibit public fireworks sales and displays.  A day later, the city of Yreka followed suit. Etna and Weed in California also announced firework bans today.

“Its tough to make that call,” Yreka Mayor Duane Kegg said of choosing to ban fireworks this year. “Right now our resources are really hurting, so if we were to have any other major instances come through the Yreka area, it would greatly impact the safety and well being of our citizens.”

Kegg says the current weather conditions remind him of another recent fire disaster.

“We can’t have what happened along the greenway of Phoenix and Talent happen to our little city of Yreka too. Its too crucial, we can’t take that risk.”

Long-time talent resident Audrey Flint survived that fire. “My main concern is fire. I live in Talent, our town was burnt down last year. I drove through flames to get out,” Flint said.

She’s shocked to see people selling and buying fireworks just ten months later, in these conditions This week the Rogue Valley is enduring record-breaking temperatures, extremely dry conditions, and increasing winds.

Flint says this isn’t the green and lush Oregon that people are used to, especially as it gets hotter earlier in the year.

“People say, ‘Well you know, they’ve always sold it and its legal here.’ Yes, that makes sense for a few years ago. But our fires are getting worse every single year, and we have the change with the climate.”

Oregon law leaves the regulation of fireworks to the local level.

Ashland has banned all fireworks for years, and Jacksonville just issued a ban of its own.  Tuesday, Ashland announced it was canceling its annual firework show out of precaution.  Bend and Portland also temporarily banned the use of fireworks.

These bans include the specific types of fireworks that Oregon normally allows vendors to sell. But Flint worries a city-by-city approach doesn’t protect anybody.

“I think all the governors should be talking and saying this is the West Coast, the West Coast is burning up right now and we need to do something about it. And fireworks are salt in the wound,” she said. “If a fire starts anywhere in the valley, we are all affected.”

Talent began discussing a fireworks ban last week. City council still hopes to make a decision before the holiday weekend.

In a statement, Governor Brown reiterated that firework regulation happens at the local level and encouraged all Oregonians to be mindful of fire safety this weekend.

Local firework vendors told NBC5 News today that they haven’t seen any dip in business and are encouraging people to be safe, so they can continue selling.

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