The Columbia Gorge is aflame, and the smoke from Eagle Creek has mixed its way (along with smoke from other fires burning in the region) into Eastern Oregon.

Although the view is hazy and the air quality abysmal, it's quite clear that the massive blaze was started with fireworks illegally set on the Mt. Hood National Forest. According to witnesses, a group of teenagers casually tossed smoke bombs and fireworks into the steep valley beneath beautiful Punch Bowl Falls. A surprise to no one with a brain, the dry September brush caught fire. That fire soon got bigger, and by the time of this writing had grown to more than 10,000 acres.

Damage, damage, and more damage.

Even though most of our readers are well aware, this is a critical time to remind Oregonians of the dangers of fireworks. We must make it perfectly clear to those who have long lived in and loved this state, and those who are new arrivals, that it is never OK to use fireworks on public land.

If an outright ban is a bridge too far, then perhaps consider hiking taxes high enough that we can continue hiking in a green Oregon. Shouldn't fireworks be taxed immensely to pay for the cost of fighting the fires that result from them?

We're as red-blooded, Fourth of July-firework loving Americans as you'll find from sea to shining sea. But if you love this country and this state, wouldn't you show it by not setting it on fire?