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Fireworks ban to continue indefinitely

 


The Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department this week stressed the importance of fire safety on the Fourth of July and reiterated that fireworks won’t be allowed at North Dam this year, but a federal agency doesn’t consider the ban temporary.

“Fireworks will not be legal to use anywhere in the city limits of Grand Coulee in July 2019 per ordinance 1036,” a press release states. “When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management declared fireworks banned on their property, including the North Dam Area, because of extreme dry and high fire danger, this results in the complete ban in the city limits of Grand Coulee.”

Fire Chief R.W. Paris noted in a press release that the traditional area allowed in the city is the North Dam Park area, specifically allowed by city ordinance under state law RCW 70.77.

“All others areas are closed to protect the property and safety of citizens and visitors,” Paris said. “The city passed this ordinance a few years ago to help maintain a safe and fire-free holiday season through collaboration with local fire departments and US Bureau of Reclamation.”

BLM Public Affairs spokesman Jeff Clark, of the Spokane District Office, told The Star Tuesday that this is the first year the BLM and USBR have had this agreement regarding fire management, and that the agreement will continue indefinitely.

He said that BLM hasn’t allowed fireworks on their public lands since he began working there in 2010, and that USBR wanted to come under their policy. All USBR land, including North Dam, now falls under that no-fireworks policy.

Clark also said fireworks were already not supposed to be allowed on federal lands.

“This is really about safety, and we don’t want to risk a fire starting,” said USBR Regional Public Affairs Officer Michael Coffey, based in Boise, Idaho. “If you were in the area last year, you’ll remember that the Northwest was really impacted by fires, and these are really dry conditions.”

When asked about the concern that not allowing fireworks at North Dam could push people out of town to the wheatfields and dry, steppe landscapes, Coffey said, “We don’t have any control over lands that don’t belong to Reclamation,” and added that their main concern was making sure fires didn’t start on their lands, such as at North Dam.

“Grand Coulee Volunteer Firefighters urge everyone to watch the professional show off the top of Grand Coulee Dam,” Grand Coulee Chief Paris said. “We hope everyone has a safe July Fourth holiday, so we can also enjoy the holiday with our families and friends.”

The release also mentioned that fireworks are allowed within the city on New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1.

 

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