Thurston County bans discharge of consumer fireworks

By Martín Bilbao

The Olympian

People with consumer fireworks cannot discharge them in Thurston County following an emergency ban.

The discharge of fireworks is banned in unincorporated areas of the county through July 5, county spokesperson Meghan Porter said. County officials chose to enact the ban because recent weather conditions have increased the risk of fire, according to a June 25 news release.

An excessive heat watch has been in effect since June 25 and continued through Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service. The heat wave has brought record high temperatures across the Pacific Northwest region.

Earlier this month, extensive rainfall allowed brush and vegetation to grow in large amounts, per the release. However, recent conditions have dried this abundant vegetation.

Considering these dry conditions, the Thurston County Fire Marshal Joshua Cummings determined the fire danger was too high to allow fireworks as usual. In the news release, Cummings said the decision was made in the interest of safety and in support of first responders.

“We recognize that the national Fourth of July holiday is a celebration of freedom and liberty in the United States, with the discharge of fireworks as an expression of that freedom,” Cummings said. “However, given the current and projected weather conditions we believe this is the right call for our community.”

The cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater ban fireworks from personal use with local ordinances. The county normally allows people to discharge fireworks in unincorporated areas so long as they follow Washington state law, The Olympian previously reported.

The state only allows for the sale and discharge of fireworks in the days around Independence Day, June 28 to July 5, and New Year’s Day, Dec. 27 to Jan. 1, within certain time periods, according to Washington State Patrol.

Tribal lands are sovereign and have their own fireworks policies, Porter said.

The county news release says Cummings reached his decision on the ban in consultation with the Thurston County Director of Emergency Services, and after being delegated authority on the matter by county manager Ramiro Chavez.

He also engaged with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the National Weather Service, Northwest Interagency Coordination center and local fire chiefs, per the release.

Although the discharge of consumer fireworks are banned, there will still be professional firework displays in Thurston County. Here’s where you can celebrate on July 4:

* The city of Lacey will host a fireworks show at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 3 from Chinook Middle School. The public can drive up and watch the fireworks from the surrounding parking lots. More information can be found on the city’s events webpage.

* The city of Tumwater will host a July 4 celebration at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 4 at Tumwater City Hall. Attendance is free but registration is required. People can register for three time slots, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12 p.m., on the city’s events webpage.

* Fireworks will be discharged from the Tumwater Valley Golf Course Driving Range at 10:15 p.m. Sunday, July 4. More information can be found on the city’s events webpage.

* Joint Base Lewis-McCord will have a fireworks show at Cowan and Memorial Stadiums at 10:15 p.m. Sunday, July 4. More information can be found the base’s website.