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Even ‘safe’ fireworks illegal

Officials say they’ll ticket anyone caught using them on Fourth

Posted: July 3, 2008 12:02 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman, front, and Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich alert Santa Clarita Valley residents Wednesday about the dangers of fireworks at a Fourth of July press conference at Fire Station No. 124 in Stevenson Ranch.

 

Celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang — just make sure nothing goes “bang” at your home.

“I wanted to alert the public that fireworks, even ‘(safe and) sane’ fireworks, are illegal,” said county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who spoke with several children Wednesday morning at Fire Station No. 124 in Stevenson Ranch.

Indeed, residents of the Santa Clarita Valley are not allowed to use fireworks of any kind during Independence Day festivities this weekend.

“Fireworks of any kind are illegal in the unincorporated area of Stevenson Ranch and in the city of Santa Clarita,” said county Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman. “We want everyone to enjoy the Fourth of July safely.”

Joining Antonovich and Freeman were SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Anthony La Berge, Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, Stevenson Ranch Town Council president Dave Bossert and firefighters from Station No. 124.

Collectively, they encouraged valley residents to enjoy one of several community fireworks shows, such as the Stevenson Ranch Fireworks Spectacular at Richard H. Rioux Memorial Park and the city’s Fireworks Celebration at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

Freeman added that while fire crews are currently stretched thin due to more than 30 wildfires burning statewide, about 180 additional fire personnel will be available to ensure public safety throughout the valley on Friday.

Last year, 43 fires were caused by fireworks throughout Los Angeles County, costing taxpayers more than $600,000, according to Antonovich. He added there were 11 fireworks-related deaths nationwide in 2007, as well as an estimated 9,800 fireworks-related injuries.

“Violators of this law are going to be punished, and they need to be,” said Kellar.

The penalties for possession or use of fireworks is a $1,000 fine or one year in county jail. Certain fireworks, such as M-80s and M-100s, are considered explosives; possession of such a product is considered a felony. Possessing M-80s or M-100s may result in up to 16 months in state prison.

Also, parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks, according to Antonovich.

If any resident participates in a block party where illegal fireworks are used, the entire block will not be held responsible, according to La Berge.

“We will not do a blanket sweep,” he said, adding that sheriff’s deputies will attempt to identify the responsible parties and fine them accordingly.

The city of Santa Clarita is currently considering an ordinance to enhance the citywide ban on fireworks use.

The ordinance will give the sheriff’s station the authority to impose stricter fines to potentially deter the use of fireworks within city limits. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the next council meeting on July 8.

La Berge urged residents to report the use of illegal fireworks by calling the sheriff’s station’s tip line at (661) 284-2-TIP, or by dialing 911. Any resident who would like to surrender illegal fireworks can call the sheriff’s station at (661) 255-1121.

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