Fireworks sales skyrocketing, and so are fines

by: Gary Horcher Updated:

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On the Muckleshoot reservation, pre-Independence Day business is quite literally booming. Customers drive here from tremendous distances—and then wait in traffic to get in and find a parking space.

Once inside, dozens of fireworks dealers loudly compete for their attention and their cash, while flashes of knee-buckling explosions shake the earth and fill the skies. Cakes, crackers, rockets, mortars, and roman candles are all perfectly legal here.

But across the street in the city of Auburn, even having any of those items in your car can get you banged with a four-figure fine, and even jail time.

Even local police admit, the patchwork of differing fireworks laws in the KIRO 7 viewing area is confusing, and inconsistent. Sparklers? They’re legal in dozens of areas in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Thurston counties. In Seattle, lighting sparklers could lead to confiscation and a $5,000 fine.

Joel Cowart, who runs the fireworks stand called “Pyro Land” on the Muckleshoot reservation says the sales agents are trained to ask customers where they live.  “Where are you headed? We get personal before they start picking out fireworks,” said Cowart, holding a massive firework cake called "Legion of Boom."

“Maybe they'll listen to us and take our advice, and they will enjoy the freedom of Independence Day, and avoid trouble.”

Sales people across the reservation are warning customers who plan on driving down the street into Auburn, possessing flying or exploding fireworks there is against the law.

“If you live in the city of Seattle, we say 'don't go take a bunch of big cakes and shells and think that it's going be OK because it's the Fourth of July,'” said Rob Wheat of Pyro Land. “We say, 'you can buy everything you want here, but you have to know that you could get into trouble.'"

A quarter-mile away, a legal “Safe and Sane” Auburn fireworks stand echoes the warning. Charlene Weaver runs a fireworks tent which raises money for “Mom and Me,” a nonprofit, offering free health care for children in a mobile medical vehicle. Weaver’s opening line to customers is always the same.

“Anything that goes-up or blows-up is not legal in Auburn,” she says.  “Anything stays on the ground and just emits sparks and smoke is just fine."

You can click this link http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/docs/fireworks/ordinances.pdf  to find the latest fireworks rules and ordinances in your county, or city.

Auburn and Algona police departments told KIRO 7 they will dedicate full-time officers to confiscating illegal fireworks bought onto the reservation.

That’s why customers like David Snowden say they stash their fireworks out of sight before they drive off the reservation. Snowden plans to put on a display in unincorporated King County, which allows many fireworks which are banned in nearby cities.

“If police on the way see fireworks that are out in plain sight, you know they'll confiscate them, no questions asked, Snowden said