Officials highlight dangers of illegal fireworks

Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief of Emergency Operations David Richardson speaks about the danger posed by illegal fireworks at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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In an effort to stop the use of dangerous and illegal fireworks as the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the city of Santa Clarita and its public safety partners conducted a pyrotechnic demonstration, urging Santa Clarita Valley residents to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

“It’s important to remember that no matter the size, all fireworks remain illegal in Santa Clarita, including those that are labeled ‘safe and sane,’” Mayor Cameron Smyth said, later adding, “We know what the Fourth of July holiday means to the residents here in Santa Clarita, and we encourage you to continue to enjoy and to celebrate, but it needs to be done safely and responsibly.” 

City officials were joined by county officials, law enforcement and doctors from the Grossman Burn Center at a news conference Monday at Los Angeles County Fire Station 126 in Valencia, where all relayed the dangers of illegal fireworks, which injure thousands of Americans each year. 

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials illustrate the the danger posed by illegal fireworks at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning by using commonly available sparklers to ignite a shirt. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“Small fireworks that seem harmless, like sparklers, will burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and cause serious burns, even blindness,” L.A. County Fire Department Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations David Richardson said.

Recent data shows more than 9,100 people within the United States were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to firework related injuries, according to Richardson. 

In 2019, between June 17 and July 17 alone, firefighters responded to 76 fires sparked by fireworks, an increase of 46% from the year prior. Twenty-seven were set off by illegal fireworks, 46 from undetermined materials and three from “so-called safe and sane” fireworks, Richardson added.

These incidents caused more than $200,000 of property damage, displaced a number of families and seriously injured three, including incidents in which people lost fingers and other body parts.

Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth speaks about the danger posed by illegal fireworks at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“As people are staying at home … because of COVID-19, there’s definitely been a proliferation of perceived illegal fireworks throughout many of our communities across the region,” Richardson added. “In the past few weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, we’ve already responded to a number of incidents related to illegal fireworks.”

SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez echoed that sentiment, reminding residents that they can report firework use through the city’s illegal fireworks reporting system on the city website under Resident Service Center.

“Upon doing so, deputies from our crime prevention unit will actually respond to the location and speak to whoever’s at that location,” Diez said, later adding, “But keep in mind, as the mayor pointed out, that notifications to the resident service center will not result in a deputy immediately being dispatched out there.” 

Those in need of immediate assistance are asked to call the Sheriff’s Station’s business line at 661-255-1121 and only call 911 for emergencies, such as fires or serious injuries.

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials illustrate the the danger posed by illegal fireworks at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning by detonating a watermelon with one such device. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“The temporary fun that many seek from the fireworks still does create a dangerous environment for our residents, our animals and our structures throughout the city,” Smyth added. “And we asked again that everyone please be considerate and understand the disastrous impacts that you can have by lighting one single firework.”

Instead, SCV residents are encouraged to observe the professionally operated fireworks shows scheduled this year, including the annual show at Westfield Valencia Town Center, though some spectator restrictions apply this year due to COVID-19. 

These restrictions include the area being closed for cars and in-person viewing on the streets and parkways surrounding the mall and “no parking” zones remaining in effect and enforced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department through the holiday.

City and LA County Fire Officials highlights firework risks

City and LA County Fire Officials highlights firework risks

Posted by Santa Clarita Valley Signal on Monday, June 29, 2020

Examples of illegal fireworks are on display at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Captain Justin Diaz of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station speaks about the danger posed by illegal fireworks at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials illustrate the the danger posed by illegal fireworks at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning by using commonly available sparklers to ignite a shirt. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

An informational poster showcasing injuries that can be sustained by illegal firework use is on display at a press conference hosted by Fire Station 126 in Valencia Monday morning. June 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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