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Nicole Kahn carefully loads shells into the mortar tubes hours before the public fireworks display at the Walla Walla Community College on July 4, 2019. 

Hot temperatures and low humidity this week mean the region is seeing an increased risk of fire, and area fireworks displays could be called off.

Increasing winds late Wednesday, June 30 and early Thursday, July 1, could heighten that risk.

“The winds won’t be anything strong, but it doesn’t take much with this type of heat to start a fire,” said Mary Wister, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pendleton.

The agency is predicting temperatures between 100-105 degrees with 20% humidity on Sunday, July 4.

City of Walla Walla officials will have a special meeting at 4 p.m., Tuesday, June 29, when officials will discuss public fireworks displays and local fire risk conditions.

They will also consider adopting an ordinance allowing for the ban of fireworks use under extreme weather conditions that pose higher-than-normal fire risk. At present, the city can recommend residents not set off fireworks this week but can’t outright ban private use.

“All we can do is encourage people not to set off fireworks in the dry, hot weather, but we can’t make any changes to fireworks ordinances at this point,” said Walla Walla Fire Chief Bob Yancy.

Fireworks rules are set a year in advance by the city, he said.

However, there are some rules residents have to follow. Use of personal fireworks are legal in Washington state but prohibited within city limits, such as Roman candles, air spinners and mines. While such fireworks can be available for sale at stands located within city limits, those are situated on Walla Walla County property or in cities adjacent to Walla Walla.

As of Tuesday morning, city-allowed fireworks include sparklers, snap-its, cone fountains, ground spinners and smoke devices. These can be used 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

Washington state and the city of Walla Walla both prohibit use of firecrackers, bottle rockets, sky missiles and explosive devices.

As of Monday evening, College Place Mayor Norma Hernandez has banned personal fireworks at this time.

Burning is suspended for residential burn permit holders due to extreme temperatures and dry conditions, Walla Walla County planning officials said.

No campfires or burning charcoal are allowed at any Washington state park east of the Cascades this week and burn bans are in place for some parks on the western side of the state, according to a Washington State Parks and Recreation news release.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is encouraging anyone planning a trip to a state park to visit the website of the specific park for updated information.

Due to occupancy limitations at Walla Walla city hall, people are being encouraged to attend and participate in this afternoon’s meeting via a Zoom link ubne.ws/WWfireworks. Or call to join, 253-215-8782 and enter the meeting identification number, 823 6926 3354#.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.

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