Weather could make fireworks more dangerous


An Red Flag fire warning has been issued for the darkened area that takes in North Dam. — screenshot of National Weather Service website

The National Weather Service has issued not only a heat advisory, but a “Red Flag Warning” until late Thursday night for a large area that apparently includes North Dam, a popular site for lighting fireworks.

Grand Coulee officials are still planning to allow people to use the top of the dam for fireworks, however, because they see it as the the safest spot in the area for lighting up the traditional explosives.

The alert was issued due to expected windy conditions mixed with very low humidity, perfect weather for triggering fires.

The warning issued Tuesday afternoon for the period from noon Wednesday to 10 p.m. Thursday means that “the combination of wind and humidity will result in the rapid spread of any fires that start during this time,” the warning states.

West winds of 20 miles per hour are expected, with gusts up to 25 mph. The NWS’s Spokane office, which issued the warning, expects humidity levels to range from 12 to 20 percent.

Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Paris said fire chiefs around Grant County had discussed in emails asking the county commissioners to issue a fireworks ban, but no ban was issued.

“We would love to have fireworks banned every place but North Dam,” Paris said of Grand Coulee and Electric City, but those cities have not issued bans. Coulee Dam has.

North Dam is a relatively small, controllable area, Paris said.

“We’re going to man up and have even more firefighters there than normal,” he said, encouraging everyone to use extra caution.

The state Department of Natural Resources has issued a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands from July 5 through Sept. 30. The ban includes all forest lands in Washington except for federal lands. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host before starting a campfire.

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