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Fireworks ban no surprise

Editorial for July 12

With last week's series of fires in the area, no one ought to be surprised that more restrictions on the use of fireworks are likely from now on.

The Bingen Point fire was serious enough, but it easily could have been tragic and devastating.

Those empty, wooden fruit bins that Underwood Fruit stacks near the river as it prepares for harvest season came close to being burned. If they had gone up, it is not too difficult to imagine sparks and embers setting off additional fires along the riverfront, and, given the wind gusts, even across the highway to the bluffs.

How bad could it have been? The Port of Klickitat's new buildings certainly would have been at risk if the fire had grown larger. So would SDS Lumber Co., which has a log storage yard in the immediate area. Homes on the bluff could have burned as well.

The 80-acre fire at Rowland Lake, a few miles east of Bingen, was also apparently sparked by fireworks. It seems someone shot some ordinance up onto the rocks above the Old Highway. Must have been a great show, huh?

If people choose not to regulate themselves, then those most threatened by their behavior will be forced to take action. That's just the way it is.

Every July 4, dozens of people go out to Bingen Point and elsewhere to blow off firecrackers and watch the aerial fireworks display from Hood River. This year, with a drought in progress and no rain on July 4, it would be nice to think that people would show restraint. But apparently that was not the case, and fires were the unpleasant result.

Those with property directly threatened cannot afford to stand by and do nothing. Fires are serious, and blowing off fireworks is frivolous. So given the balance between the two, the Port of Klickitat is expected to ban the use of fireworks on its property. That means, from now on, Bingen Point will be off limits as a place to shoot them off.

The Bingen City Council is also likely to consider some type of restrictions on fireworks use, including, possibly, a ban on their use within the city limits.

There have been too many Fourth of July fires over the years, and it has reached the point where something has to be done.

With the risk of fires at a peak during the summer months, it makes sense that site-specific bans or other restrictions would be put in place.

Some may bemoan the restrictions as government interference, but limiting where fireworks can be used seems quite reasonable in helping to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all citizens.



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