(The Center Square) – Kennewick, Washington, residents and visitors will be prohibited from setting off any personal fireworks to mark this Independence Day, but the 31-year ban will end just before July 4, 2023.
All five members of the Kennewick City Council voted this week to lift the ban that has been in place since fireworks sparked a devastating blaze at an apartment complex in 1991. State law prohibits the new ordinance from taking effect for one year so the strictest fireworks regulations in the Tri-Cities will continue in 2022.
Kennewick officials modeled the new regulations after those of nearby Richland. Starting next year, residents will be allowed fireworks, but not all of those permitted by Washington law.
As of 2023, people will be able to light cylindrical and cone fountains, parachutes, wheels, sparklers and illuminated torches. The ban continues for skyrockets, aerial and ground spinners, firecrackers, Roman candles and toy smoke devices.
People who set off illegal fireworks could face a fine of $250.
The Kennewick council announced Tuesday that they had decided to overturn the total ban within the city limits out of the belief that fireworks are an integral part of the nation’s Independence Day celebration. Officials felt city residents should be able to set off some fireworks at family and community gatherings.
Mayor Bill McKay said legalizing some fireworks might deter people who now go to tribal reservations or order online to obtain aerial fireworks that have been primarily responsible for fires in recent years.
Kennewick Fire Chief Chad Michael had proposed continuing the ban and cracking down on violators by doubling the existing fine. He told the council that, in recent years, about four fires a night on Independence Day have been caused by fireworks.
He expressed concern that, as the city grows, brush fires sparked by fireworks would be more likely to spread to structures.
The council opted not to grant Michael’s request.
While the ban is still in place, officials encourage people in Kennewick to celebrate July 4 this year by attending the River of Fire fireworks show at Columbia Park. Admission and parking are both free to encourage attendance. Plans call for parking to open at noon, with a fireworks display from a barge in the river at 10 p.m.
Entertainment options, many of which will start at 2 p.m., include a kids’ zone, food vendors, beer garden and live entertainment