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'Little Johnny ... can't even have a sparkler on the 4th of July without breaking the law'

"Little Johnny or little Susie can't even have a sparkler on the Fourth of July without breaking the law," said Gene Marlow, the owner of Mean Gene Fireworks. (KATU Photo)

Fireworks are completely banned for the first time this Fourth of July in Vancouver. It is against city ordinance to sell or set fireworks off within city limits.

In 2015, the City Council voted to ban fireworks after several homes burned down because of them.

Just a four-minute walk past city limits, Mean Gene Fireworks has set up shop.

"Little Johnny or little Susie can't even have a sparkler on the Fourth of July without breaking the law," said Gene Marlow, the owner of Mean Gene Fireworks.

Marlow has eight locations in Clark County this year. Last year he had nine locations. Two of them were in Vancouver.

"When you look out (in Vancouver) on the Fourth of July, people say that it looks like a war zone. And it is correct, it does look like a war zone," Marlow said. "What that is saying, is all those people chose to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks. That's what they want to do. Nobody makes them buy them."

Although he has no locations in Vancouver this year, Marlow expects this to be his best year.

"All those stands that were open in Vancouver are gone. So all that business has to go somewhere," he said.

One of Marlow's stands in Vancouver helped to benefit the Fort Vancouver Fireworks Show. He believes the show won't get as much fundraising help this year and thinks other nonprofits will lose out too.

"They don't have another way to make that kind of money," he said.

The Elks Lodge in Vancouver does not have a fireworks stand this year because of the ban.

Ron Taylor, a member of the Elk's board of directors, told KATU News the group raised $30,000 last year for youth organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Young Marines and others.

"There's really not a lot of opportunities out there to replace that kind of an income, but we're looking at different options," Taylor said.

Taylor said they applied for a permit in Clark County to sell fireworks, but lost out on the permit in a lottery system.

The Elks, he said, are looking at other fundraisers, like a car show, but doesn't think it would be as successful.

"It's hard for us as Elks to step back from a charity that we felt so strongly about. It's a pretty good blow to us," he said.

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