A sign north of Ashland on Highway 99 reminds passersby that fireworks are banned in city limits. Jamie Lusch / Daily Tidings

Fireworks go on sale, testing Ashland ban

The first real test of Ashland's new fireworks ban is fast approaching with July 4 coming up in less than two weeks and fireworks going on sale across the state starting today.

"It's really up to our citizens to accept the ordinance," Ashland Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman said.

The Ashland City Council passed an ordinance in October 2009 banning the use of personal fireworks in the city. Prior to that, fireworks were allowed outside of fire season — which usually runs from late May through late October — and for a two-week period around the Fourth of July. The council had for years grappled with similar bans, but until now, tradition had trumped fire safety when it came to celebrating the nation's birthday.

"The people who are on the council change," Hickman said. "That was probably the main difference this time around."

Fire Chief John Karns, hired in 2009 after former chief Keith Woodley retired, brought the idea of a ban to the council after seeing some fireworks incidents nearly get out of control his first season here.

With the late-season rains Southern Oregon has been experiencing this year, fire season has not yet started, which is not the norm, according to Hickman.

July 1, 1998, is the latest date fire season has started, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. April 18, 1988, saw the earliest start date for fire season since ODF started keeping track in 1967.

"This year we're a little late," Hickman said. "We're hoping that people who've lived here a while will recognize we're entering the time of year when fire danger is increasing."

State-approved fireworks are permitted in most other Rogue Valley cities this time of year.

— Ashland Daily Tidings

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