Legal fireworks cut fire risk, chief says
Despite higher-than-normal wildfire risks this season, fireworks stands are popping up all around the area for next week’s Independence Day celebration.
People can light the “safe and sane” fireworks only within the Grass Valley city limits during a six-hour window on Independence Day, July 4. Local firefighting agencies will closely monitor the fireworks, officials said.
Risk management weighed more heavily than preserving tradition in the city’s decision to keep fireworks legal, Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis said.
“I think it’s the safest alternative,” according to Marquis. “If we prohibit fireworks completely, I believe there is a far greater chance that they will be fired off in remote, out-of-sight locations that are far more vulnerable to wildland fire,” Marquis said.
Hot spots such as the Raley’s and Kmart shopping center parking lots will be carefully monitored, Marquis said. Each year, the out-in-the-open sites attract more than a thousand people celebrating America’s independence.
Fireworks retailers are required to provide maps and brief customers on the designated use areas in Grass Valley and Nevada City, said Tim Fike, chief for Nevada County Consolidated Fire District.
Fire officials will confiscate fireworks set off in undesignated areas, and people could get cited, Fike said. Anyone who starts a fire could be held responsible for suppression costs, he added.
Even the tamest fireworks pose a risk in the drier-than-normal conditions, and dry grass will immediately catch flame, Fike said. Every Fourth of July, fire agencies get multiple calls and a few fires, he said.
“I would much rather see fireworks allowed on New Year’s Eve than the Fourth of July,” Fike said. “They can be safe. They can be sane. The problem is, they can get out of hand,” Fike said.
To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4231.
Fireworks are allowed from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fourth of July within the Grass Valley city limits. But use is prohibited in these areas: All city parks, all schools, Whispering Pines industrial area, undeveloped areas of Carriage House, Morgan Ranch, parts of Dorsey Drive & Glenbrook Basin, Brighton Street from Packard Drive to McCourtney Road, Doris Drive canyon annex, Slate Creek/Douglas area annex, Glenwood Road/Pines annex, Litton Fields, West Olympia/Orchard Glen annex, Hubbard/Atkins/Gates/Skewes annex, Old Tunnel/Town Talk annex, all undeveloped properties.
Within the city limits of Nevada City: The Deer Creek environs, Nevada City Airport property and all areas served by Providence Mine Road.
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