The fear of fire sparked a blaze of complaints in Warren County around the Fourth of July, especially in heavily forested areas outside McMinnville city limits.
“I can’t begin to tell you how many calls I got about fireworks this year,” said Sheriff Jackie Matheny. “We had a lot of people who, because of the dry weather, were worried about fires being started by fireworks.”
Matheny said callers expressed concern about nearby residents shooting fireworks and wanted law enforcement to make them stop because of the dry weather. However, Matheny says there is no law, aside from maybe disturbing the peace, that restricts shooting fireworks outside the city limits.
“My hands are really tied because there’s no law that says people can’t shoot fireworks outside the city limits,” said Matheny, noting a statewide declaration by the fire marshal’s office could have given him an enforcement tool, however, that declaration has not been made.
In the city, McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton said things were quite the opposite and that calls about fireworks were down. However, Denton said there is a good reason for it.
“It used to be shooting fireworks in the city limits was illegal but that’s been changed in recent years where people can shoot them in McMinnville,” Denton said. “When they were made legal, that dropped our calls a lot.”
Denton said under city policy, fireworks can be shot until midnight but if there are any complaints, those shooting can be asked to stop at 10:30 p.m.