Agencies felt prepared for holiday emergency response

Siuslaw Valley Fire & Rescue and the Florence Police Department participated in many of the holiday weekend's festivities. (photo by Zeahna Young/Siuslaw News)

'We did not have any major incidents or problems'

July 7, 2021 — The first major public event in a quickly recovering post COVID world took place on Sunday as thousands gathered in and around the Port of Siuslaw for a Fourth of July celebration. The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Siuslaw worked together over the past month to ensure there was a safe, inspected launch area for the dozen or so different types and styles of fireworks that were shot into the air over the Siuslaw River.

In addition, increased attention was paid to the extremely dry conditions in the area.

According to Port Manager Dave Huntington, the event went smoothly.

“We really had no problems at all. We were a little short of volunteers, but we had all of our staff on duty and everything went great. We had no major problems to speak of, and everyone seemed to be having a really good time,” he said. “It was a great event.”

The observations shared by Huntington were echoed by Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal Tony Miller, who was on hand to observe and respond to any potential fire danger or emergency situation.

“This weekend was a prime example of all agencies involved — Florence Police Department, Port of Siuslaw, Western Lane Ambulance District and Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue —coordinating and planning prior to our festivities. Working together and assisting each other shows how well choreographed these events can be,” he said.

Despite reports of increased use of illegal fireworks, Miller saw the usage of these dangerous combustibles as less of a problem than in the past.

“As the fire marshal, I was pleased to see the use of illegal fireworks decreased from previous years within this community. There may have appeared to be a significant amount of illegal firework activity, but this could not be further from the truth,” he said.

He also noted, “There were no major injuries reported by legal/illegal fireworks activity this year, for which we are all grateful.”

The lack of significant problems was also reported by Florence Police Commander John Pitcher.

“Overall, the weekend went really well,” he said. “A lot of people were in town, but all the events went well and we did not have any major incidents or problems.”

However, the holiday weekend had its share of alerts, including an accident further east on Highway 126 that stopped highway traffic at Veneta and a utility outage for Spectrum internet.

For first responders, it felt similar to celebrations in the past.

“I personally want to thank all the organizations involved for their cooperation, and our one community working together to have a successful weekend,” Miller said.