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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: No major Fourth of July mayhem to report, though Spokanites try to skirt fireworks laws

Just two house fires, both caused by firecrackers exploding on roofs in town, had been reported as of mid-afternoon on this Fourth of July, 100 years ago.  (S-R archives)
</p><p>Spokane’s Fourth of July mayhem got off to a slow start: Only two house fires were reported by mid-afternoon. The Spokesman-Review

Both were ignited in the usual manner, by firecrackers landing atop a house and causing a roof fire. Firefighters managed to extinguish both fires before much damage occurred. One day earlier, firecrackers had also started a fire that damaged five houses on East Liberty Avenue.

An anonymous essayist on the front page of the Spokane Daily Chronicle lamented that boys could no longer get hold of the powerful firecrackers and rockets of yesteryear. Because of “safe and sane” laws, they could only purchase “sparklers and torpedoes and Chinese crackers and everything else which the authorities in their wisdom permit the merchants to sell.”

The adults, however, had figured out an easy way around Spokane’s rules. They were “slipping out to Hillyard,” where the city ordinances were looser, and buying “the seductive, but forbidden, Roman candles, skyrockets and pinwheels.”

Then they loaded up the family and went out to a lake, “where the contraband fun-makers can be touched off when darkness falls and the police and lawmakers in the city can go hang themselves.”

As for the legal fireworks, the John W. Graham & Co. was touting a new pyrotechnic novelty, the “boot-e-roo.”

“The boot-e-roo resembles an Indian tomahawk,” said the Chronicle. “The heel is hollow; a cap is laid in the ‘barrel’ and exploded, firing a feathered wooden ball, which it throws a distance of 40 or 50 feet.”