Letters to the Editor: Angora blaze sparks debate over fireworks sales
It’s Monday morning and South Lake Tahoe is ablaze. Two-hundred-and-twenty houses have burned to the ground, 500 more homes are endangered, there is 5 percent containment and our fine town of Grass Valley is selling fireworks?
I just read comments by Jeff Pelline and Dixie Redfearn on banning fireworks in Nevada County for safety reasons. Incidentally, on the front page, there was an article about safe fireworks usage, with a comment by Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis that legal fireworks are the “safest alternative.”
I challenge you to convince me that “safe and sane” fireworks are a major fire risk. How many fires have been caused by fireworks in Nevada County? How many grew out of control? Of the fireworks-related fires, how many were caused by illegal fireworks? How many fires were caused by cigarettes thrown out of car windows? Lawn mowers? Abandoned fires? How much damage was done by each of these types of fires? I’m sure that the fire department has records related to these issues and it would not be too difficult for someone with your connections to collect the information. So, convince me. Would we really benefit from banning fireworks, or is the fire chief right?
Driving in our two towns this weekend, I saw the annual sprouting of fireworks stands. I read in The Union about the low moisture content of the forest. I hear and see the already huge loss of homes in the South Lake Tahoe fire. I see signs at the local fire stations that say that fire danger is extreme. And then I ask myself, are we collectively, positively nuts to be selling fireworks to be used in this tinderbox? I answer with a resounding, “Absolutely, yes.”
I know most people are very careful, but it would only take one moment of thoughtlessness or carelessness, and we could easily have our very own Nevada County disaster. I know that the fireworks booths are great money makers for our school organizations and charities and provide much needed funds for good, worthwhile things. But, I ask, is losing our way of life in the foothills worth it? Let’s figure out other ways to raise money for these worthwhile, necessary causes.
Supervisors, councilmembers – please make the tough decision to stop this madness. Enact tough legislation that stops the sale and use of fireworks locally. Fellow citizens, please speak up to stop this insanity.
John Martin Grass Valley
As I’m seeing the firework booths appear at various locations around town, and as a horrible wildfire is destroying homes and displacing families in South Lake Tahoe, it is time, once again, to send my annual letter to the editor urging our community leaders to show some wisdom and take steps to protect us from the possibility of fireworks starting a devastating wildfire in our own area. If they weren’t available for sale, thousands of chances of a fire starting would be eliminated. It just doesn’t make sense to distribute matches during the hottest and driest time of the year.
A couple of years ago, a small group of concerned citizens tried to get the city councils of Grass Valley and Nevada City to see the value of preventative fire safety, but they were told that selling fireworks is the biggest fundraiser of the year for nonprofits. I don’t really want to sacrifice my home so the football team can buy new cleats. There are other ways to earn money.
So this year, let’s put the fireworks in the hands of professionals and attend one of the beautiful (and safe) public displays.
As I drive around town, I see signs in front of the firehouses stating, “Fire danger high” and, within a couple of miles, I see fireworks for sale. I realize that local organizations are selling fireworks as a fundraiser, but what would I think if my organization sold a firecracker that started a serious fire (or any fire at all for that matter)? Actually, there doesn’t seem to be that much of our area where fireworks are even legal to use.
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