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What to know about firework bans in Washington

KOMO photo.

WASH. STATE - Fireworks stands are open for business ahead of 4th of July celebrations, but many cities and counties around Washington have rules and restrictions with serious consequences.

The Kent City Council banned fireworks last year after 62 percent of voters approved the move in an advisory vote.

“The investigators and police officers no longer have to look and say, ‘is this something that is legal or not legal?’” Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority Capt. Kyle Ohashi said. “It’s all illegal now so that makes the job for the police and fire departments a little bit easier.”

Now any use of fireworks could land someone a $250 fine.

Just south of Kent, in Auburn, “safe and sane” fireworks stands are open for business ahead of the holiday.

“These stay low, the ones that are not ‘safe and sane’ go sky high,” Sharon Buechler explained. She and her husband run a stand, which funds a local Square Dance Club called Jet Steppers. Buechler defended the “safe and sane” items.

“If fireworks were more monitored by parents that really cared and watched what their kids were doing, I don’t care what kind of fireworks, it would be much safer,” Buechler said.

While Auburn families can shop for fireworks right now, they can’t light them yet.

“They may assume that, well, since the stands are open and these things are being sold, you can light them off whenever,” Auburn Police Commander Dan O’Neil said. “But even the legal fireworks can only be discharged on the 4th of July.”

When it comes to fireworks, different cities and counties around Washington have different rules and restrictions.

According to the Washington State Patrol website, at least 24 cities in King County have a fireworks ban in place, meaning they cannot be sold or discharged there.

In Kitsap County there are no cities with listed fireworks bans, though several have time restrictions on when they can be discharged within city limits.

In Auburn, the issue is layered. On top of restrictions for the “safe and sane” state-sanctioned fireworks, police also watch for people bringing larger fireworks off the nearby reservation. Police say it is illegal to possess those items off the reservation.

“A good rule of thumb is that if it goes up or blows up it’s illegal to blow up in the city of auburn with the exception of federally recognized reservation land,” Commander O’Neil said, adding that they have a zero tolerance policy for illegal use of fireworks, which could lead to an arrest and misdemeanor charge.

Auburn Police started emphasis patrols for fireworks last Monday, which will continue until July 5th.

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