Damp weather will help keep fire danger low for Fourth of July fun in Kitsap

Barbara Douglas at Kitsap Fireworks in Silverdale helps customers select fireworks Tuesday. - Julie Fergus/staff photo
Barbara Douglas at Kitsap Fireworks in Silverdale helps customers select fireworks Tuesday.
— image credit: Julie Fergus/staff photo

When Donna Waderich feels the need to blow some stuff up, she knows to head to Dave Douglas’ Kitsap Fireworks stand.

“I go wherever he is,” she said. “It’s worth it.”

Douglas, who for the past 23 years has been selling fireworks and attending demos to find the best fireworks for his customers, does not always set up his stand at the same spot. In fact, since 1988 he moved from Port Orchard to Belfair to Purdy and finally this year to Silverdale for his first try in the Central Kitsap area.

The Fourth of July and Waderich’s birthday fall close together, and are combined into one big celebration.

And so, like a doting fan, Waderich, of Poulsbo, has followed Douglas for the past five years to make sure the big day goes off without a hitch.

Many in Kitsap County will follow Waderich’s suite this weekend with their own Fourth of July celebrations, as there are no major events commemorating the Fourth in Bremerton and Silverdale, according to the two chambers of commerce in Central Kitsap.

Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s number one recommendation to celebrate the weekend safely–attend a public display rather than lighting personally purchased fireworks, said Division Chief Randy Billick.

Residents of Kitsap County have many opportunities to attend Fourth of July fireworks shows in Kingston, Port Orchard and Bainbridge Island.

And because of the damp spring, the risk of wildfire is low. So for those who want to set off their own fireworks, it is still possible to do so safely by taking a few extra precautions.

The best choice for firework consumers is to purchase fireworks at a local stand, rather than on one of the reservations. All local stands that opened last Tuesday sell legal fireworks and are regulated by the county, said Billick. While some fireworks on the reservation are legal, the reservations have more freedom to sell a mixture of legal and illegal explosives, which can be confusing for those purchasing fireworks, added Billick.

According to Billick, people can follow a general rule of thumb–all firecrackers, bottle rockets and missles are illegal to set off in the county.

While Kitsap County has seen very few firework related injuries over the past ten years, the few serious injuries that have occurred “usually involved illegal fireworks,” said Billick.w

The Washington State Patrol intends to crack down on those who decide to purchase illegal fireworks — especially on the ferries. Police dogs are able to sniff out both legal and illegal fireworks in cars, according to a statement. These explosives should be easily accessible for inspection. Should troopers find illegal fireworks, they will be confiscated and criminal charges could follow.

There are also precautions pet owners can take to help their cats and dogs endure the weekend.

Pet owners should close all windows, doors and blinds to decrease the chance that a scared pet will claw its way out of the house, said Stacy Price, director of animal welfare at the Kitsap Humane Society. Owners should also remember to bring their pets inside, because it’s easy for a chained dog to tangle itself in its own leash should it become frightened.

Price also said that pet owners should update all microchips and licensing, and take a current picture of their pets, just in case they do escape.

She added that it also helps to give dogs durable chew toys, and to turn on the TV or radio for distraction noise.

Lighting fireworks on school property or other public areas is illegal, said Billick. People may only light fireworks on their own property, he added.

He also advised people to make sure to light fireworks 50 feet away from brush or anything likely to catch on fire, and to always keep a bucket or hose nearby.

Because of the heavy amounts of rain this summer, there will be no burn bans in the county on non-state landover the Fourth of July weekend, said Billick.

But as always, fire over the holiday weekend is always a concern.

According to a report from the state fire marshal’s office, in 2010 there were 414 fires and 162 injuries from firework-related activities, most of which occurred over the Fourth of July weekend. Kitsap County had 11 fires and 10 injuries related to fireworks in 2010.


Fourth of July celebrations

Bainbridge’s Grand Old Fourth of July Celebration: Winslow Waterfront Park and downtown area. Celebration includes a pancake breakfast and street fair from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kingston’s Fourth of July Celebration: Port of Kingston, over Apple Tree Cove from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., fireworks at dusk.

Port Orchard’s Fathoms o’ Fun Festival: Fireworks show visible from Bremerton at 10:30 p.m.

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