PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Personal fireworks are banned in Portland and Vancouver, but officials say that won’t stop some people from breaking the rules.
Portland Fire & Rescue told KOIN 6 that if someone lights a firework and that firework ends up burning or damaging property, then it’s not considered an accidental fire. Instead, it’s what fire investigators call a “hostile fire,” which carries hefty fines.
In previous years on Independence Day, Portland firefighters and police would have patrols around the city making sure people weren’t popping the types of fireworks that are illegal in Oregon. This year, however, fire officials say that with the city’s total ban on fireworks, those patrols aren’t necessary and PPB says they don’t have the capacity to do that work this year.
Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Marshal Terry Foster says when it comes to the decision to ban fireworks, the ultimate goal for him is to save property and lives. He recalls the tragedy at the Heidi Manor Apartments in NE Portland last year, when someone tossed a used firework into a dumpster sparking a quick-moving fire that destroyed the complex and killed three people.
“We don’t want to ever see that happen again. And we understand that people want to enjoy the Fourth of July,” Foster said. “It’s a celebration that we should enjoy. We encourage people to go see these wonderful fireworks, displays all over the city.”
Foster says in 2020 when there was no ban on fireworks, the city dealt with 44 fires caused by fireworks. After the ban was implemented, the number of fires dropped to 15.