'This place is a tinderbox': Skyway neighbors urge governor to ban fireworks

SEATTLE -- Seattle, Tukwila, and Renton have one thing in common -- they all ban fireworks.

Nearby Skyway, in unincorporated King County, does not have a ban, and attracts fireworks fans from around the area.

“It is a battle zone for want of a better description,” said Bill Bowden, who is extra concerned this year with the hot, dry conditions all over the Northwest.

He will be holding a garden hose and guarding his home on the Fourth of July.

“The place is a tinderbox,” said Bowden. “This year, I think they should ban shooting of fireworks.”

Bowden created a petition to the governor on change.org requesting a statewide emergency fireworks ban. There are nearly 900 signatures so far on the petition.

Bowden initially petitioned King County Executive Dow Constantine asking for a countywide ban.

Constantine told him he didn’t have the legal authority to impose an emergency ban. The Washington state fire marshal backed that up, saying that his office also can’t ban fireworks.

One county that can ban fireworks: Chelan County, where the devastating Wenatchee fires destroyed 29 homes and at least three businesses.

The state fire marshal says that is allowed because the county’s municipal code contains a special emergency ordinance authorizing a ban.

According to Gov. Jay Inslee's representative, Jaime Smith, a governor has never issued a statewide fireworks ban, and the governor's legal team does not think he has the authority to do so.


“Our legal analysis does not indicate the governor likely has authority,” said Smith while emphasizing that he is urging people to forgo setting them off this year.

“We want to support the governor in whatever he wants to do,” said Shoreline Fire Chief Matt Cowan, who is also the president of the Washington Fire Chiefs. “At this point, I think it’s probably something to consider for the next Fourth of July.”

Cowan has already seen 32 brush fires in the past two months in his city, and even though there is a permanent ban on fireworks in Shoreline, he is stepping up patrols this holiday weekend.

“Hopefully we don’t have a very busy Fourth, but this is certainly the worst conditions I’ve had to face in my career.”