A firework ban in effect for most of the state omits Southeast Alaska, but that doesn’t mean people celebrating the Fourth of July don’t need to be cautious.
Ed Quinto, Capital City Fire/Rescue Assistant fire chief said that even though Southeast Alaska is lucky to not be a part of the ban, fire is still a threat to remain aware of, especially with it being particularly dry in the area due to the higher temperatures and relatively dry weather.
“No we do not have any restrictions, everything is normal for the Southeast and especially Juneau,” Quinto said. “But be careful with fireworks and use them safely. It’s pretty dry, so keep an eye out for any fires and put them out completely.”
The U.S. Forest Service advised keeping a close eye on campfires in a Friday news release, as well as ensuring fires are built on soil or rock and not muskeg. Other recommendations included limiting fires to areas clear of overhanging branches, dry grass and leaves; limiting campfires in developed areas to being built in fire pits or within a metal or rock ring; and drowning embers with a lot of water, stirring them and drowning them again.
“If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave,” the Forest Service stated.
Along with being aware of fire risks, Qunito asked people to stay safe. Even though the fire department will have a “full crew” on call to make sure people get the care they need, he said they tend to receive a lot of calls — especially on July 4— about injuries due to fireworks and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Juneau Police Department Friday similarly encourages safe behavior in a news release, noting there will be multiple officers focused on foot patrols in the downtown area and driving under the influence enforcement throughout the City and Borough of Juneau.
Calls directly to JPD about people driving under the influence are eligible for rewards through the Juneau Crime Line program, according to the police. Juneau Crime Line is doubling its reward from $200 to $400 for tips that lead to arrests for driving under the influence from July 3 to July 5.
Police said that if someone sees someone driving a vehicle while impaired, they should contact JPD to report it. Descriptions of the vehicle, the driver and the reasons they are suspected of being impaired are helpful, according to police.
But, if you’re not lighting your own fireworks you can still watch them boom at the annual firework show over the Gastineau Channel which is still set to take place at 11:59 p.m. on July 3, said Robert Barr, the deputy city manager for the City and Borough of Juneau. The humidity levels are high enough in the area to not ban the show or other fireworks in the area, but Barr still asked people to be cautious and aware of any risks that could occur.
“Any time people are setting off fireworks, be aware of fire risks and where they are landing,” Barr said.
A local ordinance prohibits the use of concussive fireworks — such as mortars — within the fire service area. Such fireworks must be fired on private property. The area it restricts reaches from the end of Thane Road to Cohen Drive, from the North Douglas boat launch and up to the houses on Fish Creek Road, to the end of Sandy Beach on Douglas, all of the Lemon Creek area and all of the Mendenhall Valley. Holiday fireworks — such as Black Cats and bottle rockets — are allowed anywhere on private property along with allowable fireworks — like cone fountains and illuminating torches — but it’s important to be mindful of the hours you light them, said Barr.
“It’s important to be considerate to each other and your neighbors,” Barr said. The hours fireworks are allowed to be used is between July 3 at 10 a.m.- 1 a.m. July 4, and starting again from 10 a.m.- 11:59 p.m.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or at (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.