Riverside County Takes Strong Stance On Illegal Fireworks

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Fireworks Safety

Riverside County calls for a strong crackdown on the use of illegal fireworks in Riverside County around the Fourth of July.

"Illegal fireworks can maim and kill our children. They touch off blazes that put our firefighters' lives in danger and cost us millions of tax dollars to extinguish," Tavaglione said. "We are long past the point where we can slap people on the wrist for this dangerous behavior or send them a letter asking them to knock it off."

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Fireworks in Riverside County caused 68 fires last year, one of which burned about 1,000 acres near San Jacinto in August and cost $2 million to fight, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

To prevent those kinds of conflagrations, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance in June 2006 that beefed-up penalties against illegal fireworks. Anyone convicted of illegal fireworks possession in Riverside County faces a fine of at least $500 and/or one year in jail on a first offense. The minimum fine doubles upon conviction for a second offense. Those kinds of penalties are especially important during current drought conditions that have left forests and brush ready to explode with just a spark, Tavaglione said.

Coachella, Cathedral City, Indio and Blythe are the only cities that allow the sale and use of state Fire Marshal approved "safe and sane" fireworks. However, these fireworks cannot be transported, used or possessed outside the cities where they were purchased. And all fireworks, including the "safe and sane" variety and sparklers, are illegal in Riverside County.

Fireworks still are allowed in Riverside County as part of organized displays staged by licensed professionals, Tavaglione said. That is how residents should enjoy Independence Day celebrations with their families, he urged.

"Using fireworks is not worth the $500 fine. It's not worth the chance that a child might be injured. It's not worth risking the chance that you might start a fire that endangers firefighters, your family or your neighbors," Tavaglione said.

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