Fresno Firefighters caution those setting off fireworks

FRESNO, Calif.

Dry landscape is of course a concern for fire crews and so are lower staffing levels at stations up and down the state. Fresno Firefighters spent several minutes Sunday morning putting out a grass fire in West Central Fresno.

While fire officials aren't sure what started the blaze they say right now, conditions are especially prime for fires. "Wet winter, along comes the summer season. A lot of tall grass, a lot of heavy grass, and now it's dry," Captain Dan Mendoza said.

Which makes the use of fireworks this Fourth of July, that much more concerning. On Thursday the Central Valley task force showed our cameras how quickly fires can erupt in dry vegetation. But, that's only part of the problem.

Budget woes have forced fire agencies all over the state to reduce staffing. Cal Fire, for example, will employ 730 fewer seasonal firefighters than it did last year.

Additionally, engines are now staffed with three firefighters instead of four. And less than two weeks ago, the City of Merced laid off four firefighters.

"Regardless of our staffing on our engines, we'll still respond with the same amount of engines and should they need additional personnel, that will be requested by the incident commander," Cal Fire spokesperson John Dominguez said.

Dominguez says while crews are prepared, he's still reminding people to only use fireworks labeled "safe and sane" and light them on a flat surface away from any brush or debris.

Action News spoke to several people buying fireworks who say they follow those rules every Fourth of July.

"I don't light them near dry grass, weeds, none of that stuff," Trevor Whittle said.

"We have a big backyard, but it's not safe to do it back there, so, it's better to be safe then burn your house down," A Thao said.

Law enforcement from various different fire and police agencies have been out all weekend confiscating illegal fireworks. They will continue doing so through Monday night.

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