Fireworks season: Know the rules

Tents and fireworks stands will soon pop up in local grocery store parking lots as Independence Day approaches.

Tents and fireworks stands will soon pop up in local grocery store parking lots as Independence Day approaches.

Lighting off your own fireworks as part of the celebration on the Fourth of July is legal in Covington and Maple Valley, but only on July 4 and only for a brief period of time.

Local fire departments, concerned about the threat of injuries and fires from personal use of fireworks, encourage people to go to a professional fireworks show. The city of Maple Valley will host an Independence Day celebration and fireworks show at Lake Wilderness Park. Area residents can also go to Lake Meridian Park, just a short drive from downtown Covington, for the city of Kent’s annual Fourth of July Splash.

Kyle Ohashi, spokesman for Fire District 37, which serves Covington, offered tips and information this week on fireworks.

“Purchase only legal fireworks. These are fireworks which are sold at stands not located on Indian reservations,” Ohashi said. “All non-reservation fireworks can be discharged legally, subject to any local ordinance. While some of the fireworks sold at reservation stands are legal, many aren’t, and you can be fined for removing them from the reservation.”

Fireworks can be legally sold in Covington and the unincorporated areas in Fire District 37 from noon today until 11 p.m. July 4. Residents can discharge fireworks from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Independence Day.

Police and fire investigators will confiscate “any fireworks being discharged prior to July 4, as well as any illegal fireworks,” Ohashi said. He also noted that “using fireworks on Kent School District property and in city parks is prohibited.”

According to Maple Valley’s municipal code, fireworks may be sold starting at noon today and until 11 p.m. on July 4.

Those selling fireworks in Maple Valley or Covington must obtain permits first.

Like Covington, fireworks can only be set off from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4 in the city of Maple Valley.

Fun at either of the community celebrations in the cities begins in the afternoon on the Fourth of July.

Free family activities and music will be offered starting at noon at Lake Meridian Park, with fireworks set for later in the evening.

In Maple Valley, city manager Anthony Hemstad encouraged residents to check out the city’s celebration. He called it “a great way to enjoy fireworks without having to set off too many private ones.”

Activities will start at Lake Wilderness at 4 p.m., with a wide variety of free, family-oriented activities, including arts and crafts, slowpitch softball games, a water balloon toss and three-legged races.

The celebration in Maple Valley also includes a homemade pie-baking contest, with entries accepted from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 4. There is no entry fee, but there will be prizes, organizers said.

Picnic meals brought from home are welcome, but there will also be food available for purchase at the park. Members of Maple Valley Junior Football and Cheer will be manning the grill and selling hot dogs and burgers, as well as drinks and other traditional picnic foods.

The fireworks show is set for 10 p.m. with music provided by the Maple Valley Youth Symphony.

Law enforcement officials will set up a safety buffer in and around the park so that no one will be endangered by the fireworks display. Maple Valley Police Explorers and the King County Sheriff Department’s qquatic unit will patrol to ensure boats don’t drift into the restricted area. Boaters outside the restricted area will be allowed and will likely have a good view of the fireworks, as well.

No alcohol or outside fireworks will be allowed in the park. Spectators are encouraged to walk to the park, if possible, and bring flashlights for use following the show.

Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 5054) and