Even Washington's Drought Can't Stop Fireworks Now | KUOW News and Information

Even Washington's Drought Can't Stop Fireworks Now

Jul 2, 2015

The governor’s office says there will be no state ban on fireworks. And local governments won’t be given authority to issue their own bans.

That’s because state law doesn’t permit it. But state law never imagined a heat wave like this to start the summer.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that it was the hottest June in Seattle's recorded history. And it was the driest May-June on record, too.

That's all very fine for the record books but what about the risk of fire?

Turns out local governments – and even the state itself – can’t issue a ban on fireworks for this July 4 because state law imposes a delay.

"They would have had to adopt ordinances over a year ago in order for those to go into effect," said Jaime Smith, who speaks for Gov. Jay Inslee

She says the only thing left is for people give up fireworks, given the tinder-dry conditions.

“The governor is urging people to limit or consider foregoing the use of fireworks this year, because of that risk.”

Dan Johnson, Washington's chief deputy fire marshal, says the hot weather has ignited a discussion about whether local governments need more power to ban fireworks.

And he says up until a few days ago, people thought all they needed was an emergency declaration from the governor.

But the governor’s lawyers disagree, so Johnson says the matter is now up to legislators.

“That’s something that needs to probably be addressed. If we continue to see these warmer, drier seasons, with an increased fire danger. It’s something that will need to be looked at.”

Seattle and other cities across the region already do have bans on the private use of fireworks.

The trouble, says Johnson, is that people will light them anyway.

But it's so dry, everyone's noticed. So maybe this year will be different.