In light of record-breaking temperatures and drought conditions in Oregon, the City of Bend is banning all fireworks, legal and illegal, effective immediately. The ban is reported to go through July 9, as a local state of emergency has been declared in response to the ongoing heatwave.
“The decision was pretty clear that this was an extreme safety concern from multiple angles,” Mayor Pro-tem Gena Goodman-Campbell said Monday.
Part of what was taken into consideration was not overwhelming first responders, who are already busier during the Fourth of July.
“For people calling in with an emergency, we want to make sure we can respond to those in a timely manner,” Goodman-Campbell said.
With the state of emergency in place, the city is also able to free up resources to provide services such as cooling shelters and helping the homeless during these challenging times. While firework sales and owning fireworks are still legal, the emergency declaration will remain in effect through July 9.
The ban of course is not sitting well with those who have already invested in their firework stands, who have yet to even cover their expenses and putting them in a very tough spot. A pastor by the name of Jack Dennis, who is with Believers Cornerstone Fellowship Church has been operating their nonprofit fireworks stand for 15 years, to benefit local charities.
"Directly telling us what we can and cannot do on our drive to celebrate our freedom, our liberty -- and then to threaten us with a $750 ticket," Dennis said.
As of Monday afternoon, the Bend Aiport recorded a 108-degree reading which officially breaks the city's all-time record of 106, which was set back on August 1, 1916. Nearby at the Redmond Airport, 109 degree temperatures were recorded which broke the all-time record of 108 set on August 7, 1972.
The city also mentioned in its declaration Monday, there was already an incident recently where fireworks sparked a fire last Friday at Stover Park in northeast Bend. Thankfully, Bend Fire & Rescue was able to contain the fire and stop it from spreading beyond the park.
The city's official announcement:
The emergency order includes mobilizing city resources to provide support services to unhoused community members and the immediate ban on the use of all fireworks – legal or illegal – within the city of Bend.
“This heat is taking its toll on our community, especially those who are unhoused,” said City of Bend Chief Operating Officer and Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore. “We need our public resources focused on supporting our community and saving lives right now. Allowing fireworks during this drought would create unnecessary fire risk and stress our limited public safety and water resources even more.”
The declaration of a local state of emergency is effective immediately and remains in effect through July 9. It allows for temporary emergency policies to respond to the crisis and preserve limited public safety and water resources.
The regular professional firework show at Vince Genna Stadium held on July 3, and the Pilot Butte State Park held on July 4 are to still take place as scheduled and have been approved by the State Fire Marshal and Bend Fire & Rescue.