Penalties for illegal fireworks

No fireworks show this year could cut down on visitor traffic, City Councilor Tita Montero said.

But with the Fourth of July falling on a Saturday, that reduction could be offset with an influx of tourists taking advantage of a long weekend.

Officials addressed potential issues on the holiday, especially long-standing concerns of fireworks noise and safety.

It will be a “very different Fourth of July,” City Manager Mark Winstanley said at last week’s City Council meeting. “As far as I can remember we’ve had some kind of professional show.”

Fire Chief Joey Daniels said he hopes people will take others into consideration by using legal fireworks and keeping a safe distance.

“We understand everybody wants to have a good time and everybody’s been locked up in their own house, but we want them to do it safely,” he said. “Hopefully, we don’t really need to do a lot of enforcement. But if we do have a bunch of illegal fireworks, they will be confiscated.”

In 2018, fireworks-related accidents marred celebrations in Seaside and Gearhart, where three boys were injured when a mortar exploded in one of the boys’ hands. Fireworks rattled the Cove area to create what residents called a “war zone” and responders kept busy answering complaints.

City Council members called for enhanced enforcement and messaging in 2019. Those measures will be enhanced this year with the addition of two mobile message boards, one at each of the city’s north and south entrances.

Daniels said he has heard “sporadic” fireworks so far but expects more through the holiday. He urged people to be conscious of their animals and keep them indoors. With fire season starting this week, care should be taken to stay away from the dune grass.

“We want to have a safe Fourth of July as much as possible,” Daniels said. “It’s unfortunate we don’t have the parade and the fireworks, but it’s for good reason.”

The city will be messaging through social media and outdoor signage that illegal fireworks are not allowed, Winstanley said. “We’re going to do everything we can until it gets dark. When it gets dark it becomes very dangerous. It’s very difficult for us to do something after darkness falls, but up until that time we can be very aggressive and do everything we can to discourage people.”

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