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Celebrate Independence Day Safely

Fireworks_in_San_Jose_California_2007_07_04_by_Ian_Kluft_img_9618When it comes to using your own fireworks this Fourth of July at your home in the SCV, the best advice we can give you is, just don’t.  It is illegal to use any kind of fireworks within Los Angeles County and the risk of starting a wildfire, getting charged with a felony, or being injured just isn’t worth it.

“In Santa Clarita, the use or sale of all fireworks, even “safe and sane” fireworks, is prohibited,” said Sgt. Darren Harris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station.

 


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The penalties for possession or use of illegal fireworks can range from a fine of up to $1,000 to one year in county jail.  While the possession of “safe and sane” fireworks is technically legal, using the fireworks inside Los Angeles County is not.

Certain products like m-80’s and m-100’s are considered explosives and are a felony to possess with penalties as high as 16 months in state prison.  Parents are also liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks.

“Safe and sane” fireworks can be purchased in nearby Ventura County and Palmdale, but can only be used where purchased or in other areas where “safe and sane” fireworks are legal.  Though in Los Angeles County, Palmdale has a city ordinance that allows fireworks to be sold and used in specific parts of the city, according to Suzie Ferrell of the Sheriff’s Department Headquarters.

In addition to it being illegal, the use of fireworks creates a serious risk of wildfires.

“With our hot temperatures and dry brush, it may only take a small spark to start a serious fire. We hope residents will not use fireworks. A brush fire not only threatens lives, and homes, but also puts the lives of our firefighters at risk,” said Assistant Chief Bill Niccum of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department and Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department will be increasing their staff and patrols to enforce the laws and protect against fires.  Harris said that the increased number of calls resulting from parties and illegal use of fireworks challenges their resources, but “we will take every call regarding fireworks, and we will respond to them.”

According to www.safejuly4th.org, in 2008, seven people died and an estimated 7,000 were treated for firework related injuries, mostly burns, cuts, and bruises to the hands, eyes, and legs.  More than half of the people injured were under 20 years of age.

“We want them to enjoy their Independence Day and do it safely,” said Harris.

Residents who see illegal fireworks may contact their local Sheriff’s station or give an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-222-TIPS or visiting the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers website.