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Lewis County commissioners deliberate during a meeting July 2. 

Citing growing concerns over wildfires that have increasingly wreaked havoc during Washington summers, Lewis County commissioners are looking to create an ordinance that will allow officials to limit fireworks in future years where danger is high. 

“For me, (the motivation) has been wildfires,” said county commissioner Edna Fund. “That’s one I want our prosecutor’s office to look at.”

The measure would likely not ban fireworks outright, but it would give the county the option to restrict them if conditions are dangerous. Fund said she had looked at a similar ordinance in Kittitas County. In 2016, that county passed an ordinance to allow its Fire Marshal to ban fireworks during times of fire danger. 

In Lewis County, the parameters for a fireworks ban would likely fall under the conditions in which it currently enacts a outdoor burn ban. 

“If there’s an established burn ban, we could say no fireworks, or fireworks have to be certain standards or only for commercial use,” Fund said.

County commissioners have directed the prosecutor’s office to look at fireworks ordinances in other counties, with the goal of creating a draft measure for Lewis County for them to review. Civil deputy prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said his colleagues had compiled several examples, but he had not yet had time to review them.

Per state law, local fireworks ordinances do not take effect until a year after their adoption, meaning an ordinance enacted even later this month would have no bearing on next year’s Fourth of July celebrations. The measure would apply only to unincorporated Lewis County, while cities would still be responsible for enforcing their own policies. 

Fund said commissioners had hoped to move on the issue sooner, to allow it to take effect before Independence Day 2020, but “things aren’t getting done as quickly as we’d hoped.” She noted that there will be plenty of opportunity for the public to weigh in a commissioners consider the issue.

 

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