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Public meeting set for Tuesday, March 26, to discuss public-awareness campaign

Milwaukie officials say illegal fireworks should never be seen as a fun way to make noise and celebrate.

Citizens concerned about the harm illegal fireworks can do are invited to a 6 p.m. public meeting Tuesday, March 26, at the Milwaukie Public Safety Building, 3200 S.E. Harrison St. Residents will gather to rally local efforts to inform others in the community about the harm caused by fireworks.

Patti JayIn 2017, the City Council enacted an ordinance that made it an offense to use fireworks in violation of state law, enabling the Milwaukie Police Department to ticket violators up to $1,000.

Milwaukie police intend to start issuing fines this summer but lack the number of officers to be able to enforce the ordinance throughout the city.

By state law, fireworks are designated illegal if they travel more than one foot into the air, or more than six feet on the ground. Though these are considered illegal, it's not out of the ordinary for Oregon residents to use fireworks bought in Washington.

Disciplinary action has been lax, due to a lack of police officers to issue fines and violators being given only warnings. So Milwaukie citizens are taking matters into their own hands, raising awareness about the harmful effects illegal fireworks can have.

Veterans and people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are especially at risk, said Patti Jay, a veteran and advocate reporting that a large percentage of veterans would like to ban fireworks.

"Fireworks produce triggers and nightmares reminding veterans of past combat events, trauma suffered as a result of their military duty and loss of sleep," Jay said. "One veteran reported losing four to five nights of quality sleep after a Fourth of July display."

Many pets are so stressed by fireworks they must be sedated or caged during Independence Day celebrations. Many animal shelters report that the number of lost/runaway pets peaks around July 4.

Legal fireworks left on the ground often become illegal littering by July 5. These spent fireworks pose a toxic hazard to animals, with dogs being most likely to ingest the dangerous chemicals.

Illegal fireworks also can lead to loss of wildlife, fires and property damage.

"Over the past five years, fireworks caused more than $3 million in property damage statewide," said Milwaukie Councilor Lisa Batey. "In 2017, the State Fire Marshal's Office reported 318 fireworks-related fires in Oregon."

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