By Christian Hill, The Register-Guard
Mild, wet weather means it’s unlikely the city of Eugene will declare an outright ban on fireworks in certain parts of the city this summer, Eugene officials said.
Citing extreme heat and fire threat, the Eugene City Council banned the use of legal fireworks in south Eugene over the Fourth of July holiday weekend last year.
But city officials have deemed the fire risk lower to date this year, due to more rain and cooler temperatures during the first three months of the year compared to 2015.
“To date, this year’s fire danger conditions are much better, so unless there is a change in weather, no outright ban is proposed,” Police Chief Pete Kerns and Interim Fire Chief Joe Zaludek wrote in a memo to the City Council.
The memo noted that Zaludek will evaluate the fire threat across the community throughout the month, so the city could change its stance if the area heats up and rapidly dries out.
In 2014, the council narrowed the window when residents can set off legal fireworks, to June 23-July 6 as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — and told staff to launch a public education campaign and crack down on possession and use of illegal fireworks. It’s illegal in Oregon for people to have, use or sell fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than 12 inches in the air or 6 feet on the ground. Illegal fireworks include firecrackers, bottle rockets, mortars and Roman candles.
Legal fireworks — including fountains, spinners and wheels — go on sale June 23.
Fireworks can raise many concerns for the safety and wellbeing of animals, senior citizens, military veterans, refugees, and community members at large. There has also been concern regarding injuries and fires caused by fireworks that can damage property and the environment.
1) Within Eugene, fireworks that are legal for retail purchase can be used only between June 23 and July 6 and December 31 and January 1. (City Code 4.934). Because of extreme fire danger due to hot, dry weather, for this year only, 2015, fireworks are prohibited in the south Eugene area east of Agate and south of 18th. Map Link and Fireworks Ordinance
2) The use of illegal fireworks during anytime of the year, or the use of fireworks that are legal for retail purchase other than between June 23 and July 6 and December 31 and January 1, applies to the Social Host ordinance ( 4.670).
The social host, or ordinance on unruly gatherings, holds individuals criminally responsible for hosting, organizing and allowing an unruly event or social gathering. Property owners where the event is hosted will also be penalized if there are multiple violations of this ordinance at the same property. The Eugene Municipal Court has assigned a base fine of $375 for criminal violations of this ordinance. Both hosts and property owners could be civilly liable for police, fire and public works response to repeated illegal gatherings that fall under this ordinance. Social Host
What are Legal Fireworks?
Legal fireworks in Oregon can be sold from June 23 through July 6 of each year. These include fountains, spinners and wheels available at retail fireworks outlets. Additionally, legal fireworks produce only smoke, sparks or fire but DO NOT explode, eject balls of fire, fly into the air more than 12 inches or travel more than six feet on the ground. When both legal and illegal fireworks are improperly handled, injuries and fire damage occur.
Illegal fireworks include but are not limited to, fire crackers, bottle rockets and roman candles, fly into the air, explode and behave in an uncontrolled and unpredictable manner. Illegal fireworks are extremely dangerous and create extreme fire danger. Possession of illegal fireworks is a class B misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $2,500 and six months in jail.
Cherry bombs, M-80’s and larger and any legal or illegal firework that has been modified are considered an EXPLOSIVE DEVICE and should not be handled. Call the Eugene Police Department immediately and do not transport.
Anyone with other illegal fireworks or explosive devices is encouraged to call police dispatch at the number below if they would like to coordinate surrender of those devices. Please do not transport such items without prior arrangement with the Metro Explosives Disposal Unit.