Fireworks sales begin in Mid-Columbia

Fireworks stands across the state opened their doors to customers Friday, the first day sales were allowed for the Independence Day holiday.

Fireworks can be bought and shot off legally with some restrictions in Richland, West Richland, Benton City, Burbank and rural Benton County.

But it is illegal to use them in Kennewick, Pasco, Prosser, Othello, Connell or in Franklin County.

Fireworks sales will continue through most of the state until 9 p.m. Friday, and shooting them off ends at 11 p.m. the same day.

On July Fourth, fireworks can light the sky until midnight.

The city of Richland will follow the state schedule, while West Richland residents must wait a bit longer to fire their pyrotechnics.

Fireworks may be shot off between 6 and 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 6 p.m. to midnight on the Fourth of July in West Richland.

And while they're illegal in several areas, that doesn't stop some people from lighting them anyway.

"We certainly see them the night of the Fourth," said Pasco Fire Chief Bob Gear.

Police do their best to ticket people who illegally light fireworks, Gear said. Violators are subject to $250 fines in Pasco.

In Kennewick, the maximum penalty for using fireworks is $5,000 and up to a year in jail.

Across the Snake River from Pasco in Burbank and unincorporated Walla Walla County, fireworks may be sold and ignited between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4.

Richland limits the types of fireworks allowed. Among those that are banned are ground spinners, smoke devices, Roman candles and rockets. Legal fireworks in Richland include sparklers, cylindrical and cone fountains and wheels that spin with colorful sparks.

The state Fire Marshal's Office says to make sure you are buying legal fireworks.

State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy said all legal fireworks in the state must meet seven requirements, including having proper warning labels, instructions for use and bright, colorful packaging.

He said the state has issued permits for 877 retail fireworks stands this year, down 2.5 percent from 2012.

He also said people should keep fireworks away from children and try to use them the day they buy them. Children 5 and younger should not be allowed to use fireworks, including sparklers, under any circumstances, Duffy said.

The Washington State Department of Ecology, meanwhile, says that smoke from fireworks can pose health risks. In a news release, the agency said people with breathing problems or heart and lung disease should view fireworks displays from a safe distance. People who are especially sensitive should stay indoors.