Independence Day sparks fire safety concerns

(Rigo Moran)

Increased brush regrowth from recent rainfall makes the need for firework safety this Fourth of July that much more important

TULARE COUNTY –  Tulare County fire departments have warned that more vegetation could mean more devastation in the event of fires. These local agencies are working together to encourage residents to use safe and legal fireworks this independence day.

As the Valley begins to plan for this year’s Independence Day celebrations, fire agencies throughout Tulare County have partnered together to remind residents that only safe and sane fireworks, purchased at approved fireworks booths throughout the county and cities, are legal. Illegal, dangerous fireworks can result in preventable fires and injury.

With the amount of rainfall this year in the Valley, and the growth of seasonal grasses and vegetation, the potential of fireworks starting a fire is extremely high. The combination of hot weather, dry grass and fireworks can lead to devastating fires.

These fires can lead to injury and even a loss of life and property. According to the Tulare County Fire Department, this year has already seen three instances where people sustained severe hand injuries in Tulare County due to the use of illegal fireworks.

Residents can and will incur fines for using, possessing, storing or selling illegal fireworks. Fines for the use of illegal fireworks are $1,000 while the sale of fireworks can reach up to $50,000 and can include jail time. Depending on the quantity, and if there are any resulting fires or injuries, the fines and jail time can be higher. 

Safe and sane fireworks are those purchased from an authorized booth. Illegal fireworks are defined as anything that is launched into the air, explodes or items such as firecrackers. These types of fireworks can be referred to as mortars, firecrackers, cakes or rockets.

The fire department started a countywide public outreach and education campaign focusing on educating residents that when it comes to fireworks, “It’s Just Not Worth It, Skip the Fine.” Tulare County, and the cities throughout the county, will be focusing efforts on enforcement. Residents are encouraged to report the use of illegal fireworks through the process determined by the city or town they live in.

Fire departments would like to see everyone have a safe and happy holiday as everyone gathers to celebrate Independence Day. All agencies encourage county residents to leave the fireworks up to professionals by attending many of the local celebrations happening throughout Tulare County. Fire departments are asking locals to practice the safe use of fireworks and keep an eye on their children, as accidents can happen in a split second.

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