Authorities brace for a potentially dangerous Fourth of July

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the 4th of July approaches, local authorities are bracing for what's expected to be a busy and potentially dangerous holiday.

"We may not be able to get to every single call that comes in but we will be responding to every call that we can respond to, prioritizing those to fires first,"said Ted Semonious with the Fresno Fire Department.

Law enforcement says they've already received a number of complaints of people setting off illegal fireworks.

This year sees a combination of factors that could lead to more illegal activity: the holiday falls on a Saturday, more families are staying home, and most professional fireworks shows have been canceled.

That's why authorities want to remind everyone of the dangers associated with fireworks.

"If you're going to use fireworks, only use safe and sane fireworks and only use them in the manner they were intended to be used," says Semonious.

Safe and sane fireworks are expected to go on sale this weekend in most Valley cities.

If you're caught using illegal fireworks, expect a hefty fine.

"You're going to get a $1,250 citation. We can impose either misdemeanor or felony charges as well based on what you're doing and the quantity you have," says Jay Tracy, also with Fresno Fire.

Although most public fireworks shows have been canceled this year, experts with the Air Pollution Control District recommend those with respiratory issues avoid neighborhood displays as well.

"At ground level, it's immediately going into the windows of your home, it's just traveling around your neighborhood where your family lives and breathes. It will have an adverse impact on their health," says Heather Heinks with the Air Pollution Control District.

Experts also warn that face masks will not prevent harmful emissions from fireworks from entering your body.

"Particular matter is teeny-tiny, it's microscopic, it can be inhaled through your lungs and go deep into your bloodstream and it will go right through these cloth face masks," says Heinks.
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