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Grant County commissioners decline to ban fireworks

In a special meeting Thursday afternoon Grant County’s leaders declined to ban the sale or use of fireworks in the county, after fire officials across the county had urged them to do so.

A motion by Commissioner Danny Stone, of Hartline, to ban the sale of fireworks did not receive a second motion from either Commissioner Cindy Carter or Commissioner Rob Jones, and so did not move on for a vote.

“My position was, I felt like our fire marshal had made a good case,” Stone said later.

County Fire Marshal Nathaniel Poplawski had urged the commissioners to ban fireworks this holiday due to extreme conditions, with all but two of the fire chiefs in the county agreeing.

Carter and Jones leaned toward favoring personal responsibility and not taking away freedom.

The commissioners had considered more than 50 comments from officials and the public, pro and con, on the matter in the meeting. And two resolutions had been prepared for their passage: one that banned both sale and use of fireworks, the other only banning the sale of the incendiary toys during the current, abnormally dry, season.

The commissioners “urge the public to use fireworks safely during the Fourth of July holiday weekend,” according to a press release.

“The weather has not changed,” the release continued. “It is hot and dry.  Make smart and safe choices.  If you need a second opinion as to your situation being safe, you should probably put your fireworks away and save them for New Years. “

That’s exactly what state fire-fighting officials are asking people to do: save fireworks to ring in the New Year, when conditions aren’t set to make this summer the worst fire season ever.

Fuel moisture content is lower now than it was at this date in 2015, when the state saw its largest wildfires ever, according to officials in a media training session Wednesday offered by the Department of Natural Resources, the state’s wildfire fighting/coordinating agency.

Okanogan County officials issued a statement Thursday reminding people that fireworks are illegal in the unincorporated areas of that county and that the city of Omak had recently banned them too.

The Colville Tribes banned sale or use of fireworks on the Colville Reservation Thursday, a ban that lasts until October.


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