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Oregon Coast Law Enforcement: Fines Involved for Fireworks on Beach, Advice

Published 06/20/23 at 7:21 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

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(Oregon Coast) – Summer is all about the fun, no matter where you are in the Pacific Northwest, but especially on the Oregon coast there's a ton of repose waiting to happen. Part of that is that Fourth of July is right around the corner, meaning big bang celebrations throughout the coastline. (Photo above: this is a no-no. Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

It also means fireworks for the masses, as stands begin to pop up everywhere. On the Oregon coast, however, things can be sizably more susceptible to fire hazards than you might imagine, even with all that ocean around.

That's why the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) in Newport offered up a bundle of warnings and suggestions for firework use on the coast recently.

At the top of their list is that not everyone appreciates them.

“Fireworks, loud sounds, and bright, sudden flashes can trigger vets, pets, and people with PTSD,” the office said. “If you choose to use fireworks, remember to be considerate of others, consider the time of day and the location, and prioritize safety.”

Laws may differ slightly from county to county on the coastline, but they're largely the same, and so are the dangers. It doesn't matter if you're in Yachats, Newport, Seaside, Oceanside, Bandon, Brookings or Reedsport: the LCSO's discussion rings true everywhere there's sandy shoreline or rocky cliffs.

First, all of the beaches are under the guide of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and they have banned fireworks of any kind near the shore.

In Oregon, a lot of fireworks are strictly illegal, and the LCSO said it's important you know the difference between what is legal and what is a dangerous explosive device. Anything that flies in the air is illegal in Oregon – that means many of the kinds of devices sold in Washington. This also applies to things that move in any kind of unpredictable manner or explode.

“Some examples include firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, Roman candles, bottle rockets, or other items of similar construction and any item containing explosive or flammable compounds,” the LCSO said. “Tablets or other devices containing explosive substances or flammable compounds are not legal in Oregon without a permit. Items such as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters are not fireworks: they are federally banned explosives. They can cause serious injury or even death. Stay away from anything that isn't clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer's name, and instructions for proper use.”

What happens if you are caught with illegal fireworks in Oregon or the coast? It is a Class B Misdemeanor where you can get fined up to $10,000. You could even get six months in jail.

Fire at Crissey Field, Brookings - Oregon State Parks

Ocean beaches are even more vulnerable to fires than you think, because of dune grass in the area along with other foliage that is often on clifftops. Driftwood can catch fire easily if your device winds up in a pile of smaller bits, which there are plenty of during the summer. Dry driftwood pieces had something to do with a fire that caught parts of the beach at Crissey Field in Brookings two years ago.

“Never light and throw any firework,” the LCSO said.

When it comes to preventing fires, if the area is dry, warm and windy, it will be much more prone to have ignitable sources. That includes more than just fireworks, as other activities can start a flame or create sparks. Be aware of your surroundings on the coastline.

If you know of anyone selling illegal devices in Oregon, you are urged to tell law enforcement.

The LCSO said you should read instructions on fireworks and make sure you place them on a flat surface – which does not exist on Oregon beaches and cliffs. Light them far from buildings, dry leaves or other flammable materials.

Dealing with pets and fireworks is a whole other level of issues. They are especially vulnerable to loud noises, flashing lights and even strong odors. The sheriff's office recommends you leave them at home, and make sure they have an ID on the collars in case they break loose to flea from noises.

Then there are kids to worry about.

“Fireworks are not toys. NEVER give fireworks to children. Close adult supervision of all fireworks activities is mandatory, this includes sparklers,” the sheriff's office said.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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