The city of Portland is broadening its fireworks enforcement this 4th of July. The city's new fire chief says she's asking residents to think about the bigger picture for their celebrations.
The city has struggled with illegal fireworks brought over the river from Southwest Washington, where they're sold legally. Chief Erin Janssens said these imports far outstrip candles or unattended cigarettes as a cause of accidental fires. She says illegal fireworks were responsible for at least 70 reported blazes last 4th of July.
"They're all very real threats," Janssens said. "They all have documented consequences. It's around a very concentrated time of year when we can make a difference."
The 165 firefighters on duty today will continue to try to persuade people to skip illegal home fireworks, for safety reasons, and to spare the jangled nerves of pets and some Oregon combat veterans.
In addition, Janssens has arranged for Portland's police to help with fire citations. That more than doubles the number of personnel who are empowered to ticket offenders.