The unseasonably cool and wet weather afflicting the Mid-Columbia has at least one beneficial side effect -- it will be more difficult for revelers to set your house on fire this year.
Fireworks went on sale this week in many parts of the Mid-Columbia, and no doubt untold bushels of the illegal variety have been smuggled here from elsewhere.
If every other Independence Day during the past several decades is any indication, count on several fires throughout the Mid-Columbia during the next several days.
We live in a desert. Matches, fireworks and parched grass are a deadly combination -- especially in the hands of kids and careless adults. People never think they will be the one to start a fire that gets out of control, but accidents happen every year.
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If we're lucky, the only cost will be extra pay for fire crews kept on hand to fight errant brush fires.
In previous years, the price has been much higher.
Personal fireworks have burned homes, an apartment building, the Richland Salvation Army building, Badger Mountain Elementary and a grocery store.
We know setting off fireworks is a Fourth of July tradition, but it's a tradition that causes millions of dollars in property damage and devastates lives.
In 1998, a Prosser couple who invested their life savings in a cherry orchard saw their dreams destroyed in a fire caused by a couple of teenagers playing with fireworks.
In 1992, Paul Bjorklund, a 26-year-old firefighter, was killed while trying to put out a fire on Jump Off Joe Butte that was started by fireworks. He was riding on the back of a fire truck when the truck rolled on the steep slope.
More recent fireworks-related fires have been less tragic, but still too frequent. Kids playing with fireworks already have started at least two brush fires this year.
Kennewick, Prosser, Pasco, Connell and Franklin County have taken the sensible step of prohibiting the use of all fireworks.
West Richland prohibits the use of fireworks in public parks and on school properties. Fireworks sold in Richland, Benton City, Grandview and Walla Walla are limited to certain kinds that ostensibly are safer.
But it's difficult to justify even the supposedly safe variety. Admittedly, it's fun to set off fireworks. But that's a poor reason to jeopardize lives and property.
Fireworks should remain part of the Fourth of July tradition -- just leave them to the professionals. It's a better show and infinitely safer.
The Grand Old Fourth fireworks show will be at GESA Stadium in Pasco. Gates open at 8:30 p.m., showtime is 10 p.m. Admission is free.
The River of Fire celebration runs all day, with a fireworks display at 10 p.m. Admission to the park is $7 per carload.
Alternatives for safely celebrating our nation's birth will be held all around the Mid-Columbia. See today's AT section for a complete listing.
Have a great Independence Day, and be safe.