Independence Day is a time of celebration, barbecues and fireworks for children and adults alike.
But in this week leading up to the holiday, authorities are once again urging residents to avoid injury by having a good time safely. With the extra-dry fire season, they are also cautioning about the dangers of blazes caused by fireworks.
“People can have eyes put out and lose their hands and feet,” Nevada County Sheriff’s Lt. Lee Osborne said.
“Even sparklers are capable of causing serious burns to people.”
Legal fireworks were being sold as of Monday and will be on sale through July 4. Grass Valley Fire Marshal Greg Burke said residents may legally set them off until 12 p.m. on July 6.
Booth operators are required to hand out maps showing where it is legal and illegal to set the fireworks off.
“Fireworks are generally not allowed in the unincorporated area of Nevada County,” Osborne said. “Especially not in the outlying areas because of the fire danger.”
In Grass Valley, restricted areas include all city parks, undeveloped areas of Morgan Ranch, the Brunswick Basin, and more. In Nevada City, fireworks cannot be used near Deer Creek, Nevada City Airport property and all areas served by Providence Mine Road.
“There are usually a couple of fires each year (in Nevada County) because of fireworks,” Osborne said.
Burke said fireworks pose a higher danger this year than in the past, but he said making them illegal this year would not solve the problem.
“What we found is that when we shut down the use of the ‘safe and sane’ fireworks altogether (about 15 years ago), we had more incidents of fires and injuries from illegal fireworks,” Burke said.
Fireworks that are illegal in California are “anything that flies or anything that explodes,” Burke said. That includes bottle rockets, Roman candles and M-80s.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service, along with other law enforcement agencies, will be patrolling the county for misuse, Osborne said.
Those caught with illegal fireworks or using legal fireworks illegally can be cited, be charged with a misdemeanor and have their fireworks confiscated.
Osborne said residents setting off fireworks within city limits should use extra caution and light them on cement and not in grassy areas.
“Everybody wants to celebrate the Fourth of July,” Osborne said, “but we ask them to do it safely.”
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