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Think before you flick

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A spot has been cleared near the Expo in Central Point where people can set off their own fireworks in a safe and supervised environment prior to the upcoming BoomFest celebration, but state officials are reminding fireworks lovers there and elsewhere to make sure the fuse they’re lighting is legal before flicking the lighter.

Legal fireworks in Oregon are devices that can be purchased at area fireworks tents. They include novelty devices, wheels, sparklers, fountains, spinners and smoke devices, according to Mark Johnston, assistant chief deputy with the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

Illegal devices are any fireworks that fly into the air, explode or behave in an unpredictable manner, including bottle rockets, Roman candles and M-80s.

Lighting illegal fireworks is classified as a class B misdemeanor, with a fine of $2,500 under state law.

“Those fireworks are ones that a lot of people do go and get out of state, bring them back into the state and use them illegally,” Johnston said Wednesday at a fireworks demonstration held at Jackson County Fire District 3’s White City headquarters. “Those fireworks can be used if you just simply obtain a permit from our office.”

Those who wish to obtain a fireworks permit have to pay a $100 fee. There may be local permitting costs as well, and applicants must show they have mitigated the risks.

“(Officials) look at the fallout area, the type of fireworks, where people are going to be watching those from,” Johnston said. “So those can be addressed.”

Between 2014 and 2018, fireworks started 264 fires in Oregon, resulting in $3.5 million in damage, 27 injuries and one death, the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office reported.

And in a region that’s been hit hard by wildfires the last several summers, it pays even more to play it safe.

“We’re really trying to support using fireworks safely, especially after we’ve had such a devastating last two wildfire seasons here in southwest Oregon,” said Fire District 3 public information officer Ashley Blakely.

Fireworks should be stored out of the reach of children, and an adult should always light the fuses, fire officials advised. Used devices should be soaked thoroughly in a bucket of water before disposal. Don’t try to relight dud fireworks, they warned. Wait 15 to 20 minutes after the first lighting attempt, then soak them.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.

Mark Northrop, deputy fire marshal with Jackson County Fire District No. 3, talks about firework handling precautions at the department’s headquarters. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
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