Fourth of July is firefighters' busiest night of the year thanks to fires started by fireworks, injuries from fireworks and an increase in drunk driving. In Central Oregon it's a heightened problem with a majority of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties facing varying levels of drought.
Fearing sparks, the Bend City Council voted to permanently ban fireworks in October 2021 after temporarily banning them earlier in the year. Redmond also enacted a 60-day ban on fireworks just before the Fourth in 2021 but opted not to this year.
The result seems to have worked in Bend, where only one fireworks-caused fire occurred this year and none on July Fourth. Overall, Bend Fire and Rescue received 30 calls for service on July Fourth. On a typical day it gets 35. It's the lowest number of calls for service on July Fourth since at least 2006. Bend Fire and Rescue's busiest Fourth of July happened in 2018 when there were 59 calls for service, 12 of which were for fire.
It could also just be luck; Redmond sans ban didn't have a single fire on July Fourth, according to Redmond Fire and Rescue. It did, however, respond to 21 calls mostly for medical issues. Crook County only had two reported fires from July 1-5.
Other areas aren't so lucky; Jefferson County Fire and EMS reported six fires over the Fourth of July weekend, and two after midnight on July 5. The largest of those fires came from lightning storms over the weekend.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see Oregon taking major steps in the right direction in preventing catastrophic wildfire. After the past two fire seasons, the need to modernize the way we prepare for, and fight wildfire was tragically evident.”—Bill Boos
Jefferson County is also at a greater risk of wildfire, according to an interactive fire-risk map that the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State University unveiled on June 30. The map is meant to identify areas that could be subject to defensible space regulations.
"It's incredibly exciting to see Oregon taking major steps in the right direction in preventing catastrophic wildfire. After the past two fire seasons, the need to modernize the way we prepare for, and fight wildfire was tragically evident," said Bend Fire Deputy Operations Chief and Oregon Fire Chiefs Association President Bill Boos in a statement.
Crook County didn't respond with the number of calls for service by the time this article went to print.