After 4th of July disaster, Kent man pushing for fireworks ban

KENT, Wash. -- A warm and relatively dry summer has fire department officials on high alert as people get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks.

With that danger in mind, a growing number of people are calling for a ban on the personal use of fireworks.

Fireworks are legal in Kent, and fire department officials know some of them will end up starting fires on Thursday.

David Mesaros knows what stray fireworks can do. His home caught fire last Fourth of July after it was accidentally hit by fireworks.

"By the time I walked out of our slider I was hit by a wall of flames and smoke, and all I could do was scream at my wife, 'We got to get out of the house,'" he said. "It was just the scariest thing I'd ever been through in my life."

The very next day a neighbor on Kent's East Hill had the same thing happen when a firework landed on his roof. No one was injured in either fire, but there was plenty of damage.

Mesaros wants to know why, if authorities know the fires are going to happen, they don't simply ban fireworks altogether?

Captain Kyle Ohashi of the Kent Fire Department said similar fires are bound to happen again on Thursday.

"So we are staffing up appropriately, as are all fire departments in this area," Ohashi said.

Fireworks went on sale in Kent near the end of June, but they can't legally be set off until Thursday.

After last year's disaster, Mesaros now fears the arrival of the holiday.

"Nobody can explain to me why Kent still allows this," he said.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke said city leaders thought long and hard about banning fireworks.

"The safety factor is key," Cooke said, "but it's part of this whole American culture of celebration."

Most larger cities in the area, including Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue, have already banned fireworks. Now the commissioners of Snohomish County Fire District 1 have issued support for a countywide ban.

People like blowing things up, and fireworks sales have been brisk this year. Still, some customers admit it's safer to watch the bigger, professional fireworks shows.

"Maybe that's safer to just have more shows rather than selling them, but it's still fun buying them," said Manuel Gonzalez.

Mesaros says he's going to keep fighting for a complete fireworks ban.

"We need to celebrate this holiday like it was meant to be, not as an excuse to just blow something up," he said.

Cooke has opened up the possibility of letting residents vote on whether or not fireworks should be legal.