CALIFORNIA – With the 4th of July weekend fast approaching, everyone needs to be aware that fireworks are banned in all State Responsibility Areas (SRA) throughout California.
SRA is the area of the state where the State of California (Cal Fire) is financially responsible for the prevention and suppression of wildfires. SRA does not include lands within city boundaries or in federal ownership. Fireworks are also prohibited on National Forest and BLM lands.
Fireworks stands are now open in numerous locations within Madera and Merced Counties. State law and county ordinance prohibits the use, possession and discharge of fireworks within the SRA, which includes Eastern Madera County, Mariposa County and portions of Merced County.
Today begins the sale of “Safe and Sane” fireworks in nearly 300 communities across California, which has Cal Fire reminding everyone to do their part to prevent fires caused by fireworks this 4th of July.
Over the past five years, more than 2,500 structure and wildfires have been sparked by fireworks, burning thousands of acres, causing countless injuries and costing millions in property loss.
As California deals with drought, massive tree die-off and extremely dry conditions, everyone is encouraged to attend one of the professionally-produced public firework displays near you rather than risk starting a fire.
Locally, the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a fireworks display on the lake on July 4th, starting at dusk — about 9 p.m.
Safe and Sane fireworks, stamped with the State Fire Marshal seal, are the only fireworks that are allowed to be discharged in California, though these are not allowed in the SRA. Any fireworks that explode, move about the ground or shoot into the sky are dangerous and illegal in California. Parents may be held liable for any fire damage or injury caused by their children using illegal fireworks.
Anyone caught with illegal fireworks, with fireworks in prohibited areas or discharging fireworks outside of designate time frames will be cited and the fireworks will be confiscated. Possession of dangerous, illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor in California and may be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in a county jail for one year. Fines may be higher in certain counties.
Anyone who causes a fire through the misuse of fireworks is liable and will be billed for the cost of controlling the fire. If you are found in possession of sufficient amounts of dangerous, illegal fireworks, you may be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in a state prison or county jail for up to one year and/or up to a $50,000 fine.
“Illegal fireworks, or even the unsafe use of ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks, are a major problem every year,” said Chief Tonya Hoover, California’s state fire marshal. “We have a zero tolerance towards the possession, sale or use of illegal fireworks and our officers will be patrolling the streets and internet this week.”
Fire and law enforcement officers across the state are working together to confiscate illegal fireworks off the streets. Earlier this month, Cal Fire joined a multi-agency fireworks seizure operation in San Bernardino County. The operation resulted in the confiscation of 25,406 pounds of illegal fireworks, 51 misdemeanor citations were issued, as well as two felony arrests.
In Placer County, a similar multi-agency operation occurred at the agricultural inspection station in Truckee. More than 1,882 pounds of fireworks were confiscated resulting in 20 misdemeanor citations and seven felony arrests.
“Wildfire activity has significantly increased during the last several weeks and California continues to experience explosive fire conditions as a result of five years of drought,” said Chief Ken Pimott, Cal Fire director. “Everyone needs to understand the dangers associated with the use of illegal fireworks or misuse of legal fireworks. Any person who starts a fire from fireworks – even accidentally – can be held liable for the fire-fighting costs as well as property damage costs.”
“Safe and Sane” fireworks approved by the State Fire Marshal are allowed for use in many communities; however, they are not approved state-wide. Before purchasing these types of fireworks, be sure to check your local laws and follow the instructions to avoid accidents and injuries.
Most wildfires in California are caused by people; which means they can be prevented. Remember, “One Less Spark…One Less Wildfire.”
Here are a few tips to help you be safe this 4th of July:
• If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
• Buy only State Fire Marshal-approved (Safe and Sane) fireworks.
• Have a bucket of water and a hose handy.
• Always read directions and have an adult present.
• Use fireworks outdoors only.
• Parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks.
• Use common sense and keep a safe distance.
• Never attempt to re-light or “fix” fireworks.