Fireworks sales again skyrocket

Every year, at least one person comes to the Discount Fireworks Superstore just outside the city limits looking for "secret" illegal fireworks, said Joey Forsythe, who has worked in the seasonal tent for eight years.

There are no illegal fireworks to be found at their stand, Forsythe said, and the company, run by the Christian Praise Center near Portland, said the fireworks are safe as long as July Fourth revelers use good judgment.

"You have to use common sense with fireworks just like you have to use common sense going out hunting," said Ed Forsythe, the senior pastor at the church who runs 24 stands throughout Oregon as a church fundraiser. "There are a lot of things the public can get hurt in if they don't use some common sense, even driving a car."

Both the fireworks stand and the city circulate safety tips on using fireworks safely, such as lighting displays one at a time, keeping pets inside and soaking used fireworks in a bucket of water.

The fireworks season in Oregon lasts only two weeks, from June 23 to July 6, to limit the risk of fires.

Discount Fireworks Superstore sells around 300 cases of fireworks each year in that period of time, with the an average purchase of $35 for fireworks such as spinners and screaming fountains, Forsythe said. Some customers spend as much as $400, he added.

His is the only stand fire officials are aware of where fireworks can be purchased near Ashland. Fireworks sales are banned within city limits, and any fireworks that travel six feet on the ground or more than 12 inches into the air are banned throughout Oregon.

In the 20 years he has run the fundraiser, Forsythe has heard of only one incident of fire from his products.

"That's a pretty good track record," he said. "People playing sports, you're going to see a lot more injuries."

In 2007, Ashland had six fires caused by fireworks, all between July 2 and July 4, said Ashland Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman, which is average for the season. In 2001, however, one of those fires caused an Ashland home to burn down, she said.

"The challenge is that it only takes one to cause a disastrous fire," she said. "Obviously that's the big concern is that if just one goes to a really bad spot, that creates a hazardous situation."

To limit the dangers of fireworks, she recommends choosing locations to set them off carefully, ensuring there is no garbage, dry grass or other combustible material nearby.

Those planning Fourth of July celebrations in Ashland are divided on the safe use of fireworks.

Kathy Benjamin, who is visiting from Germany, said the fireworks available in her country are more dangerous than those available in Oregon. She and her four children have already set off a few fireworks displays this season.

"We love fireworks," she said. "As long as there is an adult supervising, things should be fine."

Lauren Sweeley, visiting Ashland from California, said she would rather no one shot off fireworks this year, especially with all the smoke in the air.

"We don't need to add to the risk of fires," she said. "I just don't think anybody needs to be doing fireworks with all this dry grass. There's lots of fun things to do besides fireworks."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

Share This Story