This could be one of the busiest fireworks sales seasons in recent memory, and fire officials are reminding people to be safe with what they buy.
CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — The rush to buy fireworks is on in Clark County, and with major professional shows off this year because of the pandemic, the rush is huge. Before they could start selling at noon on Sunday, people were lined up to buy.
“We haven’t seen this kind of excitement in 12 or 13 years,” said Bo Leach, general manager at TNT Fireworks Warehouse. Leach had some theories of why sales are so strong:
“A: you can socially distance and enjoy fireworks to the hilt, B: people are pent up, they’re tired of being told what they can’t do and they want to go out and have some fun. And 3: we’re at war with this little germ and anytime we’re at war people come out and get patriotic and people are going to come out and celebrate the birthday of this country this year.”
Social distancing buying fireworks is a little tougher. This seller has hand sanitizers, plus free masks if people need one. And there are lots of distance markers on the floor.
Leach said they’d do all they can to enforce Washington’s mask rule and other guidelines. We saw plenty of crowding in what is dubbed the world’s largest fireworks tent, but we also saw people trying to give others some room. Nearly everyone wore a face covering.
Once you’ve got your fireworks purchased, you’ve got to follow the rules or face a big fine, according to Clark County Interim Fire Marshall Dan Young.
“We will have fireworks patrols out; it’s a 500 dollar civil penalty if we catch you,” said Young.
Here are the regulatory highlights: In Unincorporated Clark County, lighting fireworks is only allowed on the 4th of July from 9 a.m. to midnight.
The city of Vancouver does not allow them at all.
When you do get to light them, the fire marshal says to be safe during and after your display.
“People need to make sure that they’re out, put them in a bucket of water. Do not put them in the trash. We get so many fires caused by house fires because they put them in the trash can next to the house,” said Young.
Back at the TNT warehouse, the rush in on. Bill VanCleave is buying up fireworks with the grandkids, for a 4th of July at the coast.
“I’m looking forward to the smoke bombs and all the stuff like that,” said grandson Caden.
They were wearing masks in the crowd.
“It works, it’s the right thing to do, everybody feels safe, I think it’s going great,” said VanCleave.
Leach said Sunday’s opening day was on track to be the busiest in 30 years of business. He said while an average year they see eight to ten-thousand customers on the days leading up to Independence Day, this year he is projecting they’ll see twenty to 25-thousand customers. Leach said they’d be working to improve social distancing in the lines to get in, forming outside their giant tent.