Fireworks ignite concern in Auburn neighborhood

Sheriff’s Office: none found
By: Sara Seyydin
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Members of one Auburn homeowners association say they were disturbed by what they believe were illegal fireworks and open gun shots within sight and earshot of their subdivision on the Fourth of July.

Jack Farless, president of the Grand Oaks Homeowners Association, said he witnessed aerial fireworks and heard what sounded like guns being fired on the evening of July 4 and later that night. He and other neighbors speculate they came from the United Auburn Indian Community Rancheria, which borders his home. The tribe says no one is aware of either of those activities occurring, and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office says they sent deputies out to the Rancheria on July 4 and did not find anyone with fireworks.

Farless, whose home borders the western side of the Rancheria, said he is worried a fire could spark and spread as a result of the fireworks, destroying Baltimore Ravine and the Grand Oaks subdivision.

“They shoot rockets up in the air and they burst just like they do at the fairgrounds,” Farless said.

Susan Smith, who also lives in Grand Oaks, said she called the sheriff’s office on the evening of July 4 when she said she saw the fireworks.
“We looked up and saw the skyrockets that went off and there are oak trees all around there and the whole reservation,” Smith said. “What a terrible fire hazard — terrible. We are just very concerned about fire and especially in light of what happened at the Robbers Fire up there.”

Doug Elmets, spokesperson for the United Auburn Indian Community, said no one on the Rancheria is aware of any illegal fireworks or gun shots that were fired.

“I looked into it and there is nobody that is aware of any fireworks going on on the reservation on the night of July 4, but it was July 4, Independence day, and I am sure that there were fireworks that were going off in neighborhoods throughout the United States,” Elmets said. “The tribal members are as interested as anyone in preventing not only the illegal use of fireworks, but preventing fires on their property or anyone else’s.”

Dena Erwin, spokesperson for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies visited the Rancheria twice on July 4 and nobody was found with any fireworks.

Jay Love, battalion chief for the Newcastle Fire Protection District, which is responsible for emergency calls to the United Auburn Indian Community reservation, said they did not respond to any reports of fireworks on the property on the Fourth of July. He said the only firework incident Newcastle Fire responded to was off of Crocker Drive and Auburn Folsom Road.

Several neighbors in another neighborhood bordering the Rancheria said they did not hear or see any fireworks there.
“I didn’t hear anything besides what I normally hear on Fourth of July,” said Laura Sadtler.

One Auburn resident, Candy Brown, who lives in a home across the street from the border of the reservation on Auburn Folsom Road, said she heard fireworks that evening.

“I didn’t see. I just heard. I don’t know where they were coming from,” Brown said.

Bill Mendonca, battalion chief for the Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of Cal Fire, said he was on duty on the Fourth of July and he remembers hearing the sheriff’s office respond to the reports of fireworks at the reservation over the radio, but Cal Fire was not requested. In general, he said it is not unusual for law enforcement and firefighters not to find fireworks after they respond to a possible incident.

“We did the same thing along Rock Creek Road, but by the time I got there, there was no evidence,” Mendonca said. “If they see you coming, they put the stuff away until you leave. Ariel fireworks, we take a pretty stern view of that.”

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