The City of Bend declared an emergency due to the extreme heat that mobilized services to unhoused communities and banned all non-professional firework use until July 9. Fireworks remained for sale in stands across the city, but under the emergency order the use of them is a class A civil infraction that can be fined up to $750.
“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,” said City of Bend Chief Operating Officer and Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore in a press release.
Data from the Bend Fire Department compiled the day after the ban went into effect showed that firefighters had been deployed to five firework incidents.
“It was a really mellow year for us in terms of fireworks. It was much, much different than other years. So, I definitely think that there was a positive impact for us with the firework ban,” said Trish Connolly, deputy chief of the Bend Fire Department.
“We had a couple of very small fires on the Butte that started because the bigger show, they were put out immediately, they didn't even get past 2-by-2 [feet]; they were really small,” Connolly said. “Typically, the fourth is our busiest day of the year. This year on the fourth we only went on one fire that was started by someone putting out personal fireworks.”
In the last several years the number of fires caused by fireworks has fluctuated. In 2017 there were three, in 2018 there were 14, in 2019 there were four and in 2020 there were six.
The ban may have made firefighters lives easier this holiday, but it also made firework sellers’ lives a bit more difficult.
“It's obviously hurting small businesses,” Jake Dennis, who was volunteering at the Discount Fireworks Superstore tent for his church, the Believers Cornerstone Fellowship. “We're not the only gig in town, there's a few other churches that do it, but some are just guys that bought low, sell high to try to make a living off of it.”
"We had a lot of people that were obviously offended by it, and they were kind of spending a little more than usual. Of all the days to rebel, it’s the Fourth of July, you know what I mean?" Jake Dennis - Volunteer at Discount Firework Superstore
Dennis said he’d noticed fewer patrons coming in after the ban, but that those who were buying fireworks were buying more.
“We had a lot of people that were obviously offended by it, and they were kind of spending a little more than usual,” he said. “Of all the days to rebel, it’s the Fourth of July, you know what I mean?”
Cops arrested at least one person for the sale of illegal fireworks in Bend. On July 5, police cited a man for attempting to sell five boxes of mortars to an undercover police officer. Cops say he had bought the mortars in Washington and was intending to scam the officer “by dumping the contents of the two boxes into a large bag and presenting them as ‘five boxes.’”
Police are still looking for the culprits who shot off illegal fireworks at Stover Park on June 26. The type of firework shot numerous mortars into the air before exploding, resulting in a fire on a 100-yard stretch of the outfield fence that was quickly extinguished.
The Redmond Police Department said four citations were issued between July 2 and 5 for fireworks. They received 184 complaints via email and officers responded to 26 complaints during the same timeframe.
The Bend Police Department hasn’t responded to an inquiry regarding the number of citations issued and calls for service at the time this article went to print.