By BRENNA KNOWLES
Of the Baker City Herald
Fireworks could burn a hole in your pocket this Fourth of July.
Baker City Fire Chief Tim Frost said if a person is found responsible for starting a fire, they are also responsible for paying the cost of fighting the fire.
If purchased locally, however, the safe and responsible use of fireworks can celebrate our nations birthday and support community programs.
The fireworks themselves are expensive, but that makes them good money makers, Frost said.
Donna Cummings and Virginia Neff from Baker City sold fireworks out of a booth set up in the Albertsons parking lot as a fund-raiser for the Lighthouse Church. Both were careful to check the identifications of buyers that looked younger than 16. Cummings said under Oregon law, fireworks that smoke and pop are the only ones allowed for children under 16.
Cummings said fireworks are an important part of the Fourth of July celebration.
The lights and colors get people excited about the freedoms we have been blessed with and help us remember those who have gone to war to fight for the United States, she said.
Neff said the sounds made by fireworks represent the sound of ammunition used in battle.
Cummings and Neff pointed out the warning labels on the fireworks they sell that remind users to light them outdoors and under adult supervision.
People should be very careful not to throw them at others or light them while holding them in their hands, Cummings said. Its a lot of fun as long as it is safe; safety is number one.
Monte Loyd, pastor of the Baker Valley Christian Assembly and 16- year-old Courtney Williamsonsold fireworks in the Safeway parking lot.
Williamson said the money will go to the Baker Valley Christian Assembly youth group to help pay for camp and student ministries.
Loyd said the TNT company based in Portland provides the booth and merchandise and the youth receive a percentage of the sales.
Williamson said she likes to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks.
Its a fun, family tradition. I usually invite a bunch of friends over and I always keep a bucket of water around, Williamson said.
Loyd said the fireworks sold in Oregon are mellow. Outlawing firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles has helped to prevent fires and injuries, he said.
Loyd said he would recommend that his patrons be conscious of the fire potentials in surrounding areas and obey posted laws in campgrounds and forested areas.
Public displays are safer
That may include forgoing fireworks altogether. Frost said he does not think fireworks are an essential part of celebrating the Fourth of July. He recommends attending a public show instead, like the ones in Haines, Halfway or Huntington.
It is less expensive and it is a nice way to enjoy the evening safely, he said.
If personal fireworks are used, Frost said to remember the greener the better. He recommended lighting fireworks in a paved area rather than grass, and having a water source available to extinguish any flames. He said people over 16 should be the only ones to handle fireworks and that proper clean up is essential.
We hope there wont be any problems this year, in this dry season, and there wont be if people take precautions and be responsible, Frost said. Just be careful; its the same as any Fourth of July but drier, Frost said, We dont want a repeat of the Spring Garden incident that burned a couple of acres last year.
The Three Bes
The Office of State Fire Marshal has outlined the Three Bes to protect people from fireworks related fires and injuries. Be prepared before lighting fireworks, be safe when lighting fireworks and be responsible after lighting fireworks.
Use legal fireworks available at licensed outlets.
Store fireworks out of childrens reach.
Always read and follow label directions.
Place pets indoors; they are easily frightened by fireworks.
Always have water handy (garden hose or bucket)
An adult should always light fireworks.
Keep matches and lighters away from children.
Use outdoors only.
Light only one firework at a time and move away quickly.
Keep children and pets away from fireworks.
Do not throw fireworks or hold in your hand.
Soak used fireworks thoroughly in a bucket of water.
Dispose of used fireworks and debris properly.
Never re-light a dud firework, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.