Now that Asotin County has banned all fireworks in unincorporated areas because of the extreme fire risk, the city of Lewiston and Nez Perce County may soon follow suit.
Lewiston Fire Department Chief Travis Myklebust told city councilors Monday that with conditions drier and hotter than he’s ever seen this early in the year, he would support both a burn ban in the city limits and a fireworks ban countywide.
“I do believe this is the right thing for our county,” Myklebust said, noting that the Asotin County ban would almost certainly push people from that jurisdiction into neighboring counties if they don’t follow suit.
City and county officials studied the issue Monday to inform their course forward. The City Council could enact a ban by ordinance at its Thursday budget work session, but councilors said they would support a declaration of emergency by the Nez Perce County Commission that could allow public safety officials like Myklebust to ban fireworks and recreational fires like backyard fire pits. Commissioners will meet today to consider the emergency declaration.
Myklebust said the fire department will be adding staff on July 4 to help handle any fires. He said the high heat is extremely taxing on his crews, which had to deal with two wildfires on Monday alone. Most firefighters are completely exhausted after working just a couple of hours in these conditions, he said.
City Manager Alan Nygaard also updated the council on efforts to provide cooling shelters for those in need. Both the City Library at 411 D St. and the Lewiston Community Center at 1424 Main St. are available. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The community center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Parks and Recreation Director Tim Barker said the city has also been in discussions with the Lewiston School District about using schools as cooling shelters, and the district said it can have two schools available if the need arises.
The Asotin County Library announced that its facilities are air-conditioned and available as cooling shelters during normal operating hours. The main branch at 417 Sycamore St. in Clarkston is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and the Clarkston Heights branch at 2036 Fourth Ave. is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Masks and social distancing are still required regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, according to the library.
The city of Pullman announced that it will extend the operation of its emergency cooling center through Thursday. The shelter is at the Pullman Senior Center in the Pullman City Hall campus at 190 SE Crestview St., and is open from noon to 8 p.m. daily.
COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed at the shelter, including masks and social distancing requirements for unvaccinated individuals. Pet owners should make care arrangements for their animals since they will not be allowed in the shelter.
The CrossPoint Church at 1330 Powers Ave. in Lewiston will be open as a cooling shelter from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the next several days. Those who need more information may call (208) 743-3000.
The Nez Perce Tribe announced that its Pi-Nee-Waus Community Center at 504 Main St. South in Lapwai and its Wa-A’Yas Community Center at 401 Idaho St. in Kamiah will be open 24 hours a day as cooling shelters during the heat wave.
Public Health – Idaho North Central District officials issued an excessive heat advisory for the region Monday, warning of the adverse health effects possible over the next several days. It emphasized the importance of drinking plenty of fluids, staying out of the sun and checking in on relatives and neighbors.
Young children, older adults and pets are at a higher risk for heat illness and should never be left unattended in vehicles, the district said in a news release. It recommended those who witness or experience symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke to seek medical help immediately. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating; paleness; muscle cramps; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; nausea and vomiting, fainting; fast and weak pulse; flat and shallow breathing; and skin that may be cool and moist.
Symptoms of heat stroke, a more severe and possibly fatal illness, include a body temperature over 103; red, hot and dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; and nausea. The district recommended that those who don’t have access to air conditioning to seek relief by visiting friends and family who do, or going to public areas with air conditioning.
Mills may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 310-1901, ext. 2266.