The Sunset Speedway. Photo: Chas Hundley

BANKS - Banks Fire District 13 crews will set off the city of Banks’ fireworks display at Sunset Speedway, located at 12765 NW Main Street, on Thursday, July 4.

Prior to the fireworks display, Sunset Speedway will host the annual Firecracker 50 races with event classes that include Outlaw Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, Pure Stocks, IMCA Hobby Stocks, 4-Bee’s, and IMCA Stock Cars.

Tickets to the Firecracker 50 cost $16 for adults, $13 senior citizens and kids aged 12-17, $8 for kids 6-11, and family passes for two adults and as many as four kids are available for $55.

The fireworks show will begin immediately following the last race at about 10 p.m. The display is open to the public, many of whom in the past watched the show from Sunset Park, the baseball field next door to Sunset Speedway.  

Fireworks safety

In July 2018, Oregon and much of the west coast was just beginning to experience one of the worst wildfire seasons in history, and many fire departments across the Portland metro area were concerned that fireworks set off at people’s homes -- bought legally or illegally -- would cause fires that could quickly get out of hand in populated areas.

This year, Banks Fire Public Information Officer Mitch Ward said currently there is no burn ban in Washington County, except for the seasonal ban on backyard burning; agriculture burning is still allowed.

Ward provided some tips for people who plan to light off fireworks on their own.

“Purchase legal fireworks from a licensed dealer,” Ward said. “Light fireworks on a solid surface clear of any combustible materials, including weeds and grass. Have a readily available source of water handy, and thoroughly soak your spent fireworks in water. And always follow all of the safety instructions printed on the fireworks package.”

Ward said that in any case, the public needs to be extra cautious when lighting off fireworks. 

“National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) stats show that in 2017, nationally, there were 12,900 fireworks-related injuries, and one-third of those injured were 15 years old or younger,” Ward said. “There are about 18,500 fires per year started by fireworks, leading to $43 million in property damage.”

By comparison, in 2017 in Oregon there were 318 fireworks-related fires, including the massive 50,000-acre fire in September of that year that burned through the Columbia River Gorge. Fires in Oregon that year caused by fireworks also caused $861,000 in property damage, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office.

Oregon law prohibits the sale, possession, or use of all fireworks that fly through the air, travel more than 12 feet horizontally, or that explode unless one obtains a permit issued by the state fire marshal. Offenders can be charged as much as $500 for a civil penalty and a fine of as much as $2,500 per violation.

To report the use of illegal fireworks, call the Washington County non-emergency dispatch number at 503-629-0111. 

Also, remember to be considerate of pets because in many cases they experience extreme anxiety from the loud explosions of fireworks, Ward said.