Fireworks sales don’t make sense
Although we enjoy the spectacle and color of fireworks as much as anyone, we have to wonder about the logic of permitting the private sale and use of pyrotechnics when the foothills are experiencing the most fire-tempting conditions in recent years.
The California Department of Forestry has said that the area is already in a tinder-box condition normally not seen till well into July. The Tahoe National Forest has clamped down on the use of campfires and cooking stoves. What are we thinking when we open the door to anyone to, in effect, set a match to Nevada County?
It’s not that there aren’t efforts to try to restrict where fireworks are used. They are banned in most unincorporated areas of the county. Grass Valley and Nevada City prohibit them in areas such as parks, Brunswick Basin and the airport. But that begs the issue. When people can attend supervised fireworks shows with proper fire protection, why let fireworks be sold and privately used in Nevada County at all?
Grass Valley Fire Marshall Greg Burke shrugs and says banning what he calls “safe and sane” fireworks (those that don’t fly or go bang) doesn’t work – that when it was tried 15 years ago “we had more incidents of fires and injuries from illegal fireworks.”
Maybe that’s because penalties – a simple misdemeanor charge and confiscation of fireworks – are a slap on the wrist compared to the risk of a raging wildfire that potentially could destroy hundreds of homes. Or that all the law enforcement agencies, aided by the CDF and Forest Service, can only patrol a small percentage of the county’s fire-danger areas.
Fifteen years ago was just after the 49er Fire that caused $20 million in destruction from the San Juan Ridge down to Lake Wildwood, and people were scared enough to take action. Will it take another such disaster to prompt us to get tough on fireworks again?
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