Remember the images of the Columbia Gorge burning in 2017? Over 50,000 acres were destroyed and the fire burned for months. Hundreds of residents in the Gorge were displaced by this devastating inferno caused by fireworks. You can still see the scars when you visit the Gorge, four years later.
In July 2014, a beach grass fire burned several homes near the beach in Manzanita before being brought under control. And just last year, hundreds of thousands of acres all across Oregon burned, including just south of Manzanita in Bay City and Lincoln City. While these fires were not the result of fireworks, the dry summer weather creates a tinder box across the state. Can you imagine a forest fire raging on Neahkahnie Mountain, Nehalem Bay State Park or within Manzanita? The results would be nothing less then catastrophic.
We have already seen firsthand how hot and dry this summer has been, with temps along the coast creeping close to 100 degrees just a few days ago. We are drier than ever with no rain in the near forecast.
It’s time to rethink the use of fireworks. Across the state, cities like Portland, Bend, and Cannon Beach have recently issued outright bans on fireworks due to worries over dry conditions and public safety.
Within city limits, illegal fireworks can gain you a hefty fine. Also, our stretch of beach is managed by Oregon State Parks and the use of fireworks on the beach at anytime is strictly prohibited. Breaking that law can net you a fine of up to $2,000. That’s to say nothing of the damage done to our fragile marine ecosystem by the resultant debris.
And let’s be honest: in a small city like Manzanita, they are a nuisance. Shooting them off in close quarters at all hours of the night is not pleasant for people and pets who are here looking for peace and quiet.
For safety’s sake, it’s time to put away the fireworks.
Photo: Manzanita beach fire, 2014