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'There's nothing left; it's all gone' Washington residents ask City Council to reconsider law allowing fireworks

A house at 320 N. Ave. C caught fire on Saturday due to a firework. The residents asked the City Council to reconsider the local firework ordinance. (Caitlin Yamada/ The Union)
A house at 320 N. Ave. C caught fire on Saturday due to a firework. The residents asked the City Council to reconsider the local firework ordinance. (Caitlin Yamada/ The Union)
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WASHINGTON — Two individuals asked the Washington City Council to reconsider ordinances surrounding fireworks, after a firework burned down part of their house.

James Shepherd said he loves his town, but over the Fourth of July weekend, his family lost everything.

Shepherd said some kids were setting off fireworks and part of his house caught fire.

“There’s nothing left, it’s all gone,” Shepherd said.

Before the fire, Shepherd said he tried to call law enforcement earlier that day to have someone stop the kids and was told the rules allow fireworks in the city until 11 p.m. on July 3, 4 and 5 and to ask them nicely to stop.

“I did ask them nicely, and it just probably seemed to make it worse,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said there are probably some people doing it by the rules, but there are a lot of people who do not.

“It cost us everything,” Shepherd said.

While watching firefighters extinguish his house fire, Shepherd said he was thinking about how the fireworks put lives in danger.

Bubba Shepherd said he was outside at the time playing on his electric keyboard.

“I looked behind me and saw the glow,” Bubba Shepherd said. “The whole roof was on fire.”

Bubba Shepherd said he went inside and by the time the family got out of the house, Bubba Shepherd said the truck was engulfed and the garage was gone.

Bubba and James Shepherd asked the council to consider banning fireworks or making a specific area designated for fireworks.

“Please come together and come up with a solution so this won’t happen next year to somebody else,” James Shepherd said.

Washington Police Chief Jim Lester said the department had around 30 fireworks complains in the last 10 or 12 days.

Brendan DeLong said when they passed the most recent firework ordinance he thought, “Let’s give it a try for a few years.”

A majority of people DeLong has talked to said they don’t want the fireworks.

Many of the councilpersons said similar statements surrounding the fireworks, either about personal experiences or what they have heard in the community.

Steven Gault said he is sorry about the man’s house and someone should be held responsible.

“If this kid was seeing what was going on and seeing who was shooting off fireworks, he should be able to tell who it was,” Gault said.

Gault said even though he is sorry about the incident, it does not make a difference if the fireworks are banned.

Elaine Moore compared the fireworks to speeding — people still speed, but there are consequences. Moore said they shouldn’t ignore what the community is saying to them.

DeLong said even though there was nothing addressing the fireworks during that meeting, it may be something the council considers in the future before the New Year’s celebration fireworks occur.