'Like a war zone': West Seattle neighbors brace for fireworks, possible fires

SEATTLE -- Seattle is one of several cities in Washington that bans fireworks, but that doesn’t stop large groups of people from lighting them off in West Seattle’s Highland Park.

“It sounds like a war zone,” said Sid Olson, who lives across from the park. “I hate to say I dread the Fourth of July, but it’s enough of a nuisance that it worries me.”

This year,  Olson and other neighbors are mainly worried about the threat of fires.

“You’ve got trees around that can catch on fire, and the field is brown,” said Norman Conway.

Conway usually sets off fireworks in the park with his kids, but conditions are so dry this year that he’s not taking the risk of sparking a fire.

“We’re not going to light them off,” said Conway. “It’s just too hot.”

But Conway knows the park next to his home is the hot spot in the neighborhood, and will still attract plenty of fireworks fans.

Fines for setting off fireworks in Seattle can be as high as $5,000.

Many of the city parks and ball fields will leave the lights on at night on the 3rd and 4th of July to try to discourage people from lighting them off.

In the past, neighbors in Highland Park have called police to complain about the incessant smoke and explosions from fireworks, but they say officers don’t do much to disrupt the Independence Day celebrations.

This year, they just hope they won't be forced to call for firefighters.