City of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County officials had a clear message for the public. Fireworks are illegal, they all said during a news conference Wednesday morning at Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 126 in Santa Clarita.
“There are many fun ways to celebrate the Fourth, but I must urge you to exclude fireworks displays and possession from your plans,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda, who emceed the conference. “Please remember that all fireworks are illegal in the city of Santa Clarita, include those that are labeled safe and sane.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she knows the public is eager to “get back to what we call normal and celebrate with our family and friends.”
“After overcoming this year, we have a lot to celebrate, but we must remember that the safety of our families and our community must remain our priority,” said Barger, noting that fireworks are also illegal in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles.
Last year, the county experienced 39 fires caused by illegal fireworks, according to Barger.
“The Santa Clarita Valley experiences extreme heat and gusty winds throughout the year,” she said, stating the county remains concerned about current drought conditions. “The challenging weather conditions task our firefighters with preventing and tackling fires that can quickly spread across hundreds of acres.”
Barger said she’s partnered with federal government agencies to stop the flow of illegal fireworks entering the state.
“I’m hopeful that customs agents can keep fireworks in mind when inspecting port shipments and vehicles that are crossing our borders,” she said.
The Santa Clarita Valley will host a professional fireworks show, “The Spirit of America Fireworks Spectacular,” at Westfield Valencia Town Center at 9:15 p.m. Sunday.
L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby encouraged the public to attend professional shows, calling illegal fireworks “dangerous.”
“When you look around the hills of Santa Clarita and in the rest of the county, you can see that they’re dry,” he said. “We’ve only had one-fourth of the normal rainfall here in our district.”
Osby said it’s important to understand the fuel moisture content metric, which looks at the water content in live fuels like brush.
“They’re crisp and dry,” he said of the fuel. “They’re bone dry. We’re seeing measurement now that we would typically see in late August, early September.”
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez said local law enforcement will be taking a proactive approach to suppressing illegal fireworks in the SCV.
He said the city and the SCV Sheriff’s Station have partnered to identify illegal fireworks hotspots throughout the city using an online tool called the Resident Service Center.
“We’re encouraging citizens to go onto the RSC and put in exact locations of where fireworks are going off, where they’ve gone off in the past,” Diez said, noting the station typically received an additional 250 calls for service on the Fourth of July. “That’s in a proactive effort to contact those Santa Clarita residents and let them know that fireworks are illegal and the potential repercussions from using those.”
Diez said residents should not expect an immediate response after filing a report at the RSC, which residents can access at santa-clarita.com/rsc.
“It’s used for mapping purposes, monitoring and proactive patrols,” he said. “If you do need a response, please call the sheriff’s station directly at the business line at 661-255-1121. Please don’t call 911 unless it’s an emergency.”
Last year, Santa Clarita deputies confiscated 40 pounds of illegal fireworks, said Diez, adding a fire started by illegal fireworks could lead to criminal penalties.
Miranda also asked the public to consider the impact that fireworks have on pets and veterans.
“(Veterans) are people that we don’t want to have them remember some of the tragic events that they’ve experienced in the past,” said Miranda. “That is no way to thank those who fought to give us the right to do things as we want here in America.”
Dr. Matt Young of the Grossman Burn Center said illegal fireworks, as well as sparklers, can have a permanent scarring effect on a child.
“If you get a burn on your hand, we can take care of you easily, it can be fixed,” said Young. “If your hand explodes, it’s gone.”
Young said fireworks injuries are preventable.
“These are serious things, they’re not toys,” he said, a point emphasized through a pyrotechnic demonstration showing how a sparkler that catches clothing could burn it in a minute. “Hopefully, you will make the right choice and go to a professional show and not let your child be involved with fireworks or have fireworks in the neighborhood.”
A pyrotechnic expert also exploded two watermelons using fireworks to demonstrate the destructive power and danger of illegal fireworks.