Valley News -

Officials warn public against private use of fireworks around Fourth of July


Last updated 6/17/2019 at 5:03pm

RIVERSIDE - Warning that igniting fireworks can lead to threats to life and property, Riverside officials on Monday, June 17 urged the public to enjoy city-sponsored shows instead of illegally setting off pyrotechnics on their own.

"Illegal fireworks are in many ways harmful to the community, residents, firefighters and pets,'' Mayor Rusty Bailey said during a briefing outside City Hall. "All can suffer in varying degrees when fireworks find their way into neighborhoods. Make the right decision on Independence Day. Celebrate in a responsible manner.''

Bailey was joined by representatives from the fire and police departments to stress the dangers of non-permitted use of fireworks, which can result in fines up to $1,000 and even jail time in extreme cases.

"Fireworks are bittersweet for the fire department,'' Riverside fire Capt. Brian Guzzetta said. "The Fourth of July stands for everything we love about the city -- barbecues, friends and family. But as firefighters, we know the Fourth can bring problems. This year, those are compounded by the winter and spring rains. Now there's a lot of dead grass on hillsides. That's fuel waiting for a fire. It sets us up for grave danger.''

Guzzetta stressed that illegal use of fireworks -- especially the aerial variety -- can "hurt innocent people,'' with devices flying high into the air and landing on nearby homes, potentially triggering a blaze.

"The city is taking a strong stance to eliminate the illegal use of fireworks,'' he said.

Police Chief Sergio Diaz said teams of undercover officers will be targeting buyers of pyrotechnics leading up to the Fourth of July.

"We are trying to tell folks, 'Please, for so many reasons, do not buy or set off illegal fireworks,''' Diaz said. "We will cite you. We will arrest people who possess and light illegal fireworks.''

Bailey and City Councilman Jim Perry encouraged residents and visitors to enjoy one of the two municipally organized fireworks shows -- at Mt. Rubidoux and La Sierra Park.

"We want people to participate, but in a safe and sane manner,'' Perry said. "On an annual basis, across the nation, 10,000 people are injured because of the use of fireworks. Forty percent are children. People with PTSD from military service experience that phenomenon when fireworks are lit. it cannot be helped. Animals get loose. We need to celebrate the holiday without issues in our neighborhoods.''

The city asked anyone who witnesses use of illegal fireworks to call the police department at 951-354-2007 or 951-826-5311.

In Riverside County, private parties are prohibited from using fireworks except in Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Indio, where so-called "safe and sane'' fireworks, certified by the state fire marshal, can be sold to the public.

The devices are mostly pyrotechnics that don't explode or fly, including sparklers, ground spinners, fountains, snappers and caps.

Municipalities can authorize fireworks demonstrations, and the county grants permits for shows in unincorporated communities.

Under county Ordinance 858, fines for illegally storing, transporting or setting off fireworks can range from $500 to $1,000.

According to county officials, any person who triggers a brush fire due to the illegal use of fireworks will be held responsible for all suppression costs.


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