Ashland Fire & Rescue Chief John Karns is proposing that the city ban fireworks uphill from Siskiyou Boulevard and North Main Street.

Ashland Fire & Rescue Chief John Karns is proposing that the city ban fireworks uphill from Siskiyou Boulevard and North Main Street.

The proposed "above the boulevard" ban is tentatively scheduled to go before the City Council for consideration on Oct. 20.

Karns took over for retired Fire Chief Keith Woodley and started work in Ashland on June 22. He was soon thrust into the fire department's work to keep people, homes and land safe during Fourth of July festivities.

Karns found that the city bans the use of fireworks during the fire season — except from June 23 to July 6, the time of year that the state government allows fireworks sales in Oregon. Fireworks sales are not allowed within city limits.

But Ashlanders can use fireworks anywhere in the city, even near the urban/wildlands interface where homes meet the forested hillsides above town that make up the Ashland watershed, source of the city's drinking water.

"I was a little astonished that we were allowing fireworks in our interface at such a dangerous time," said Karns, who came to Ashland after working for a fire department in the Los Angeles area.

Although fireworks are allowed anywhere in Ashland, residents are not supposed to use them near dry vegetation.

Yet Karns and Ashland Fire & Rescue Forest Resource Specialist Chris Chambers said when they toured Ashland after the Fourth of July, they did find used fireworks near dry vegetation and close to the Ashland watershed.

"I think banning fireworks above the boulevard would be great. ... Every year that I've walked out there, I see spent fireworks in areas that are very scary to me," Chambers said.

Karns said the logic behind banning fireworks above Siskiyou Boulevard and North Main Street is that it keeps the devices farther away from the forested hills.

— Ashland Daily Tidings