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... of fireworks, that is. Saturday’s rain eases concerns only a bit about the lighting of fireworks in our rainforest. The dry weather grows worrisome as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.
The community fireworks, deployed in Tongass Narrows from a barge off Pennock Island, draw “oohs” and “ahs” of the masses. It’s the individuals’ fireworks, the ones that draw “uh-ohs” as we see them careening toward our shake roof shingles (or our heads), that have us worried.
The state fire marshall, Kelly Nicolello, says the excitement of the “beautifully colored sparks flying through the air in concert with loud rumbling explosions” can make people forget they are playing with dangerous chemicals and combustibles that can hurt people and destroy property. He provides a scary figure: The sparks from fireworks can reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees.
Yikes. In the driest June we’ve had in a good, long spell -- a year when fireworks are banned in many areas of the state because of extreme fire danger -- why risk our homes and surroundings, not to mention our eyes and limbs?
Though there isn’t a state law banning individual fireworks, Ketchikan Gateway Borough code requires a permit for them, and a person can be fined $500 for not following that rule. Alaska State Troopers respond to fireworks complaints as noise complaints, and say such calls are common twice a year: Now, and around New Year’s. (Naturally, individuals shooting off fireworks within the City of Ketchikan is a no-no.)
But law, no law; it’s just common sense. State Fire Marshal Nicolello implores us not to set off our own fireworks, and instead, to enjoy the public display.
That’s a fine suggestion for our favorite community holiday: Enjoy the closing hours of Independence Day with your neighbors. Find a good viewing spot, and watch the fireworks display Thursday night over the Narrows.