In the midst of what is projected to be one of the most dangerous fire seasons in the state’s history, local officials and emergency personnel held a press conference Monday to relay to Santa Clarita residents not only the danger of firework use on the Fourth of July for individuals, but also the harm they can cause should they spark a local wildfire.
Held annually before Independence Day celebrations are held through the Santa Clarita Valley, the presentation included live demonstrations of the damage fireworks can cause to oneself and others.
“I expect that many of you have already made plans to celebrate with family and friends by enjoying a family barbecue, a neighborhood party or picnic,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste. “There are many ways to celebrate the Fourth, but I must urge you to leave fireworks to professionals.”
According to officials who spoke on Monday, more than 10,000 injuries are reported as a result of fireworks each year on the Fourth of July. And even the fireworks that claim to be “safe and sane” can burn upwards of 2,000 degrees.
“Small fireworks that seem harmless, like sparklers, will burn at nearly 2,000 degrees,” said Assistant Fire Chief Nick Berkuta, “and can not only cause burn injuries, but also start wildfires… especially now as we see the rise in temperatures and a decrease in fuel moistures in our brush through the extreme drought conditions that our state is encountering.”
SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez emphasized that punitive measures will be taken against those who are found to be in possession of or using fireworks illegally in Santa Clarita.
“Every year the Santa Clarita station is inundated with over 300 calls for service just regarding fireworks, and if you add that to all our normal calls for service, you can imagine our patrol resources are certainly taxed,” said Diez.
The SCV’s top cop added that three teams will be used at the SCV Sheriff’s Station as a part of their firework suppression effort this year.
“Please remember all fireworks are illegal, including safe and sane, and throughout the Santa Clarita Valley that’s not only in the city, but of course in unincorporated county areas,” said Deiz. “Within the city there’s a $500 fine for a first offense and $1,000 fine for any subsequent offense.”
Those who are found to have caused a fire as a result of a firework — something Diez said happens two or three times a year — could result in a “devastating impact” on the community and criminal charges for the person found responsible.
Those residents who assist in reporting the lighting off of fireworks are eligible to receive a $500 reward, according to city officials. Those wishing to report firework use are asked to not call 9-1-1, but to rather make a report to the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s main line at 661-260-4000.
The city’s “Spirit of America” fireworks show on the Fourth of July, hosted at the Westfield Town Center, is scheduled to begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. Six Flags Magic Mountain is set to host fireworks displays from Saturday through the Fourth of July.