Sacramento leaders warn of increased penalties for illegal fireworks

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As the Fourth of July approaches, Sacramento public safety leaders are talking tough about illegal fireworks.

“Unfortunately, last night, we had some amazing pyrotechnics happening in the neighborhood, a number of illegal fireworks that were going off in the night,” said Councilman Eric Guerra.

That’s why city and community leaders have displayed both legal and illegal types of fireworks. The “safe and sane” kind include fountains or spinners that stay on the ground.

The more powerful examples require licenses, and in the wrong hands, cause most of the injuries and fires that happen every year.

“A few of our neighbors have decided not to celebrate safely and sanely by using these illegal aerial fireworks and explosive devices,” said Councilman Isaac Gonzales.

Just in the last few weeks, officers have seized 1,500 pounds of illegal fireworks.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, local fire departments responded to an average of 4,430 brush, grass and forest fires on July 4 in 2018. That’s more than five times the daily average.

“It’s extremely dangerous, especially with the hot, dry season we’re in,” warned Jason Lee, a fire marshal at the Sacramento Fire Department.

Lee said a newly approved ordinance will now hold property owners accountable for any illegal firework activity and fines will be increased.

“It starts at about $1,000 and they can go up to about $2,500. We can issue these violations just by a visual verification that a firework has left the ground or exploded,” he explained.

Community watch group leaders and the Sacramento SPCA are warning not only about the risks to people and property but also to pets.

“July Fourth is the time of year when the most animals get brought into shelters because they ran away during the fireworks,” said Ken Altine of the Sacramento SPCA.

Guerra added there has to be a bigger effort by the community to spot and report illegal firework use.

“It really sours the ability for us to celebrate the Fourth of July,” he said.

The Sacramento Fire Department is launching a new app, Nail ‘Em, to specifically report any illegal firework activity one may see before and during the Fourth of July.

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