PHOENIX, Ore. — A growing number of cities in southern Oregon are following the lead of those in Siskiyou County by canceling fireworks displays or banning the sale and display of fireworks in city limits in the midst of extreme heat and drought conditions.
The Phoenix City Council met in an emergency meeting on Thursday night, voting in favor of a resolution that bans any and all fireworks in the city until December 30. Phoenix Police said that they would be enforcing the ban with extra patrol officers through July 6.
"If a person is caught using fireworks, within the city limits, in violation of this emergency ordinance they could be issued a citation for the violation with a fine of up to $500," Phoenix Police said in a statement.
The Talent City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass an ordinance that bans "the use, lighting, detonation or display of consumer and display fireworks" within city limits. Thursday's ordinance declared an emergency, making it effective immediately.
Talent's ordinance makes express reference to the Almeda Fire, which leveled much of Talent and Phoenix, leaving thousands of people without homes and undoubtedly scarred by the experience.
While there's no indication that the Almeda Fire was started by fireworks, the ordinance reasons that fireworks pose a potential fire hazard and residents are "understandably fearful of threats of wildfire" after the events of September.
On Thursday, the Gold Hill City Council approved its own ban on fireworks, lasting from July 1 through the end of fire season. Officials said that the city charter allows for a $250 fine for any violation of the resolution.
"Due to current weather conditions and drought, and a statewide state of emergency for imminent threat of wildfire declared on June 29, the ban is intended to reduce the risk to public safety, life and property," Gold Hill said in a statement.
The Ashland Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday that it would cancel the annual Independence Day fireworks show, citing both the current conditions and concerns from the community after the trauma of the September 8 fires. The City of Ashland also has a standing ban on private use of fireworks within the city.
"The safety of the Ashland community is of the utmost importance and current conditions require us to reconsider the decision. We feel it is best to be abundantly cautious and cancel the show this year," said Sandra Slattery, Executive Director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
Shortly after Ashland's announcement, the City of Jacksonville released a statement declaring critical fire danger, and prohibiting the lighting of fireworks within the city limits "immediately."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Boomfest fireworks display at the Jackson County Expo was still set to go forward on July 4. Officials say that this year's show is designed to keep any burning material far away from dry vegetation by using exclusively aerial effects that will finish burning well before they return to the ground. The Expo has also decided to bar people from bringing and setting off their own fireworks this year.
Along with the bans already announced in some areas throughout Oregon and California, NewsWatch 12 called around to local governments on Tuesday to get a better idea of where fireworks will be prohibited and where they will be allowed:
- Phoenix: Fireworks banned until the end of the year.
- Gold Hill: Fireworks banned through the end of fire season.
- Talent: New ordinance bans the sale and display of fireworks within city limits.
- Lake of the Woods: The annual fireworks display has been canceled, and other fireworks are banned on Forest Service lands.
- Ashland: City officials say that have a standing ban on public use of fireworks, and the Chamber's display was canceled on Tuesday.
- Jacksonville: Temporary ban.
- Mt. Shasta: Temporary ban.
- Yreka: Temporary ban.
- Weed: Temporary ban.
- Portland: Temporary ban.
- Bend: Temporary ban through July 9.
- Klamath Falls: Legal fireworks allowed, but city code prohibits discharge of fireworks in an area that poses a fire hazard risk "such as a field, vacant lot, or any city park." A fireworks display is going forward at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, though no personal fireworks will be allowed, similar to Boomfest.
- Central Point: Legal fireworks allowed within city limits, large display at the Jackson County Expo for Boomfest.
- Medford: Legal fireworks allowed in city limits (excluding the Greenway, public schools, and city parks) from July 1 through July 6.
- Grants Pass: Within the city limits, fireworks are allowed only on July 4 between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., excluding wildfire hazard zones.
- Eagle Point: The city has no plan to ban fireworks, except those already prohibited under state law.
- Jackson County: Commissioner Rick Dyer said that there is not enough time to enact an ordinance prohibiting fireworks throughout Jackson County, and enforcement would be too difficult even with a new ordinance in place. County officials urged people to stick with legal fireworks and use them responsibly.
This list will be updated as we get more information.