Illegal fireworks raise fire risk

Officials encourage residents to follow laws this weekend
By: Martha Garcia and Bridget Jones, Gold Country News Service
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There are lots of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July. In Auburn, Loomis and throughout unincorporated Placer County, shooting off fireworks isn’t one of them. “All fireworks within the town limits are illegal,” said Sean Fuller, fire prevention officer for the Loomis Fire Protection District. The ban applies to fireworks of all sizes and types, Fuller said. Only the cities of Rocklin, Roseville and Lincoln allow the “safe and sane” variety of fireworks, he said. According to Fuller, possession of illegal fireworks can lead to a $1,000 fine and up to 10 days in jail. Individuals who cause a wildland fire by using illegal fireworks will be held responsible for suppression costs. For a 2-acre fire, suppression costs can be in the thousands of dollars and for larger fires they can run into the millions. Mark D’Ambrogi, chief of the Auburn Fire Department, said he wants residents to know fireworks are not allowed at all, and every year the department catches people setting them off in Auburn. “What a lot of folks don’t understand … they (think they) can go down to Rocklin and Roseville (to buy fireworks) and come up here and use them, and they can’t,” D’Ambrogi said. Chelsea Fox, spokeswoman for the Nevada-Yuba-Placer Cal Fire Unit, said the fire danger level in Auburn is moderate to high and is expected to remain that way during the Fourth of July weekend. Cal Fire takes the fire risk associated with illegal fires very seriously, and encourages residents to attend fireworks shows sponsored by their local communities instead, Fox said. Fuller said it is important that everyone consider the extreme danger all fireworks pose to the safety of the public and communities “All fireworks are illegal because they cause serious injuries and they often cause fires,” Fuller said. “The vegetation in Placer County is extremely dry and it is very easy to start brush fires with fireworks. California continues to experience a drought and the fire danger is a major reason to not use fireworks.” Fireworks set off in the “safety” of the neighborhood sidewalk, he said, can land on a house or a car, which can start a fire. Or they can easily land on an innocent bystander or child and cause serious burn injuries. “Is it worth the excitement of watching something explode when it might cost someone his or her life, car or home?” Fuller asked. The Placer SPCA also warned that flashes, cracks and booms from fireworks could be frightening for pets. Leilani Vierra, chief executive officer of the SPCA, suggests keeping pets in a quiet, familiar area on July 4 and any time loud noises are nearby. Enjoy the sights and sounds of licensed, professional —and safe — fireworks displays that will be held Saturday evening in Colfax, and in Auburn, Lincoln and Roseville on Sunday evening. D’Ambrogi said residents should take advantage of the Independence Day show in Auburn. “The Fourth of July event we have in town … that’s an awesome show, especially being a small town like this, you can get a good seat pretty much anywhere in town,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ Auburn’s Fourth of July events 7 a.m.-Firemen’s Pancake Breakfast in Bootlegger’s parking lot, 210 Washington St. Following the breakfast there will be games including foot races, gunny sack races, three-legged race, a watermelon eating contest and more. 4 p.m.-Auburn Family Fourth celebrations at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Admission and parking are free. This event includes patriotic readings, karaoke, food from local vendors, motorcycle speedway demonstrations, the Auburn Area Lions Fourth of July Parade from the Chamber of Commerce to the Fairgrounds, a musical performance and more. 9:35 p.m.-Fireworks at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. For information: call Auburn Chamber of Commerce, (530) 885-5616 ext. 223