Local law enforcement agencies reported higher-than-normal numbers of firework complaints last 4th of July weekend as people were left to celebrate on their own.
To comply with the state restrictions on large public gatherings, local Fourth of July celebrations were canceled. As a result, the Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace police departments spent Independence Day responding to a large number of fireworks complaints across their respective cities.
“I know that following the long COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and the following limitations due to the virus, many areas of the county — including us — experienced an increase in fireworks usage, despite local bans,” said Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Pete Caw.
Fireworks are illegal in all three cities, although they were legal in unincorporated areas of Snohomish County on July 4 only. Instead of issuing citations, police focused more on encouraging offenders to comply with bans to save time for responding to other complaints.
Caw said the department responded to 52 fireworks complaints over the holiday weekend. However, he added that he could not say for certain if there were more calls made this year than in previous years.
“I heard from most of the officers that this year seemed to be a bit more than last year,” Caw said. “No surprise, considering the long stay-at-home restrictions and people wanting to celebrate the Fourth.”
The Edmonds Police Department reported nearly 80 calls regarding fireworks were made between late July 4 and early July 5.
Two patrol units were assigned to handle fireworks complaints and they responded to 58 of the calls. The rest were taken by other patrol officers or non-dispatched contacts. Additionally, Edmonds police reported responding to two fires that required assistance from South County Fire.
South County Fire also reported an above-average number of calls and responded to 16 fireworks-related fires.
According to South County Fire spokesperson Leslie Hynes, most of the fires involved brush, trees and dumpsters. She said there were no structure fires and the most serious fireworks-related injury involved a teenager in Everett.
Lynnwood police also reported an increase in calls compared to last year. Spokesperson Joanna Small said the department received 69 calls — seven more than 2019. Small added that responding officers also focused on education and advised offenders to comply with local bans.
“We, like Edmonds, don’t typically issue citations for fireworks violations but rather give warnings,” she said.
–By Cody Sexton