Police and fire team up in Hillsboro to crack down on illegal fireworks

Hillsboro Fire Inspector Martin Stapleton (left) Hillsboro police Officer Ricky Ruelas haul off a bag of confiscated illegal fireworks Wednesday they found at a block party. (KATU Photo)

Police and fire teamed up in Hillsboro on Independence Day to crack down on illegal fireworks.

KATU News road along with Officer Ricky Ruelas and Fire Inspector Martin Stapleton Wednesday afternoon, and in less than one hour they had caught a block party with a large stash of illegal fireworks.

Stapleton and Ruelas confiscated a bag full of mortars and roman candles, both illegal in Oregon.

“If you have to go across state lines to get it, it’s illegal in Oregon,” Stapleton said.

Police say setting off illegal fireworks can be costly, with citations that could result in fines of up to $500. They’re also costly to the state. Over the past five years, fireworks-related fires were responsible for more than $2.1 million in property loss.

“Here in Oregon, we have a lot of grass fields -- one little spark and it will light the whole thing on fire,” said Ruelas.

Officials say grass fires and forest fires are of concern, as are house fires. If you want to see fireworks shoot into the sky, they say it’s best to leave it to the professionals who put on large, public shows.

“We’ll never make it to everybody, but the goal is they see us out there doing it, they see us taking them,” Stapleton said. “Hopefully, we make them think next time: ‘I’ll spend all this money and lose all my fireworks, so why not save the money and not do it.’”

Stapleton and Ruelas did not give a citation to the people at the block party because they said they were cooperative and handed over the illegal fireworks.

If you do use fireworks, Stapleton says you should let them sit in a bucket of water overnight and put them in the trash can the next day. Soaking them in water will make sure you don’t inadvertently start a fire in your garbage, which could spread to the rest of your home.

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