By Theresa Goffredo and Brian Kelly
With today’s opening of Boom City as the unofficial start of July Fourth fireworks sales, at least two Snohomish County cities — Marysville and Arlington — are taking extra steps to keep illegal rockets, tennis-ball bombs and M-80s off the streets.
In Marysville, a multiagency task force of city and county law enforcement and fire officials has been formed to crack down on possession and use of illegal fireworks.
As part of that effort, the task force has distributed 8,800 fliers throughout the Marysville School District. The fliers are sending a message to youngsters and their parents that illegal fireworks can maim and kill. The fliers have pictures of illegal fireworks, including tennis ball bombs, bottle rockets and firecrackers.
Under state law, possession or discharge of illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine, a year in jail or both.
"There hasn’t been a lot of enforcement in the past, and in the current atmosphere it’s time for us to take a serious look and step up our enforcement efforts," Marysville community information officer Doug Buell said.
Marysville’s council plans a public hearing Monday on whether to ban the sale and use of fireworks within city limits. Legally declared "safe and sane" fireworks can be discharged in the city between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. July 1 through July 4.
In the past, federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents have gone undercover and made arrests for illegal fireworks at the Tulalip Tribes’ Boom City.
"They’ve been involved in operations over there, and with the cooperation of Tulalip tribal police force, they have made arrests," Buell said. "This may have had a chilling effect on some of the sellers."
Meanwhile in Arlington, the city is planning to cut the wick on any wacky antics with illegal fireworks. Arlington is preparing for increased police patrols, with two officers dedicated just to fireworks complaints.
"In part, it’s due to complaints that we received on the use of illegal fireworks," said city administrator Kristin Banfield.
"It’s also because we are in a drier climate right now. It’s hot, it’s dry. We want to keep our fire risk low," she said.
"Safe and sane" fireworks are legal in the city. Those types can be purchased at permitted stands. Legal fireworks can only be purchased and used from noon on June 28 to noon on July 6. And it’s illegal to set off fireworks between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m.
The fire department will also participate in this year’s crackdown.
"We’re not going to use overtime for fire, we’ll use existing crews," Banfield said, adding that they’ll be noticeable in the neighborhoods.
"Instead of waiting for the bell to ring at the fire station, they’ll be out and about all day and all night, patrolling neighborhoods and visiting folks."
Arlington expects to pay approximately $1,080 for 32 hours of police overtime for fireworks enforcement.
You can call Herald Writer Theresa Goffredo at 425-339-3097
or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.