Fireworks prohibited for recreationalists

— As the Fourth of July approaches, and fireworks sales in the state are beginning today, fire officials want to remind forest visitors that fireworks are illegal in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Residents are also urged to “know the laws before purchasing and discharging fireworks,” and “only purchase legal fireworks,” State Fire Marshal Charles P. LeBlanc said.

“The use of fireworks on national forest lands is a major concern to us,” US. Forest Service Fire Staff Officer Keith Satterfield said. “Fireworks or any other pyrotechnic devices of any kind are illegal year round on all national forests.”

Satterfield said there are monetary penalties for fireworks possession on the national forest. Violators can issued a citation and fine with a maximum penalty of $5,000 or as many as six months in jail. Additionally, anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable for suppression costs. Those costs can be substantial, often running into hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

The fire marshal said it is a good time to remind everyone that personal fireworks require personal responsibility. With a little care and planning families can have a fun and safe Fourth of July:

• Check with your local fire or police department to be sure the fireworks purchased are legal to possess and discharge, and to know the dates and times fireworks are allowed (if at all).

• Children should not be able to readily access fireworks in the home. Fireworks should be stored in a secure location.

Use care in selecting the area where fireworks are discharged and follow the directions and warnings.

Don’t discharge fireworks without adult supervision and be mindful of grasses and other dry vegetation nearby.

Remember the three Bs of fireworks safety:

• Be Prepared – Have water nearby and put pets indoors.

• Be Safe – Only adults should light fireworks.

Be Responsible – Clean up fireworks debris.

Forest service officials said there aren’t any campfire restrictions currently in effect on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

They are concerned about campfire use, however. Campers must ensure their campfire is completely out and cold to the touch before leaving campsites.

Recreationalists are urged to remember to use an existing fire ring or construct a fire ring out of rocks. All vegetation needs to be cleared away from the ring and campfires shouldn’t be underneath low hanging tree branches.

Keep water and a shovel nearby, officials said. Drown it with water, stir the embers after they have been doused and make sure everything is wet. When you think you are done, take an extra minute and add more water.

“We want people to enjoy the holiday but we also want them to leave their fireworks at home,” Satterfield said. Forest visitors are encouraged to enjoy local fireworks displays instead.


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